Monday, March 16, 2015

Life Update 3.0

Winter is almost over and adventures are in the works, but for now, here is a life update.

Eating: A lot of new recipes! I recently picked up the Weeknight Meals edition of Clean Eating Magazine which features a lot of inexpensive and quick recipes. I have really enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen. Their Jamaican Jerk Kabobs might be my new favorite go-to recipe. I also really loved learning how to make spring rolls from the Minimalist Baker blog. So, so good.

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Drinking: Twining's Irish Breakfast Tea. I love a good breakfast tea. Christopher and I also really enjoyed Penobscot Bay Brewery's Winnah 2013, a Christmas present from our friend Deanna. Christopher loved the Jolly Traveler's Winter Shandy, but I was less of  fan. It was a little too fruity for me.

Reading: I just finished Animal Farm by George Orwell and I seriously loved it. The last line in particular was just brilliant, "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." SO GOOD.

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On my "books to read" list: The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey, and Burial Rights by Hannah Kent. I am really making an effort to get back into fiction and not get burnt out on school books.

Watching: While staying in a hotel in Boston, I started watching Legend of the Superstition Mountains on the History Channel. I came home and bought the whole season. If you have ever wanted to be Indiana Jones, this is the show for you.

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Doing: Once again, a lot within the community. I just became a member of the Brewer Historical Society and I am eager to starting making connections within the community. National History Day is coming up and that should be a blast!

Anticipating: Spring. WHERE ARE YOU?

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

PAX East

 This year Christopher and I were invited to attend PAX East. PAX East is a penny arcade expo that occurs every year in Boston. It is a time for companies to show off their new games, expansions and hardware.

Do not get me wrong- I like video games. Growing up my Dad taught me how to play Diablo II and Star Wars Battlefront II. I still enjoy playing games and use them especially as stress relief, but I was rather nervous about PAX East. I tend to dabble in video games however, there were going to be some hardcore players fully dressed up and talking about games far beyond my comprehension.

I ended up having a pretty good time, despite this not being my scene. Christopher had an awesome time. We went to a presentation about Magic: The Gathering where he learned what to expect from his next draft night (Dragons. A lot of dragons). Christopher met a YouTuber he has watched and admired for years. We checked out some new hardware presented by companies such as Zotac. We had way too much fun playing a new game  called Primal Carnage: Extinction; a game featuring battles between people and dinosaurs. And...we people-watched. Oh did we people-watch.

Some thoughts on the Boston Convention Center and our hotel:
1. Parking is a nightmare. Go early and know where alternative lots are. Parking took us an hour an half.
2. The food was actually pretty good and reasonably priced. Also there was a bar- always a good sign.
3. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Woburn. This was actually one of the better places we have stayed at. The price was right ($75), it was incredibly clean and modern, and it was only about twenty minutes away from Boston. 

Overall this ended being a pretty fun weekend! Now it is back to the grind.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

French Quarter Beignets

If you have been reading this blog for any length you know I have a soft spot for Cajun food. Beignets are a special kind of delicious. Make them for Mardi Gras or whenever the heck you feel like it! Recipe adapted from here.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour
1/4 cup shortening
Nonstick spray
Oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

15 Things You Learn When You Move to Maine

It is winter. I have bronchitis. Getting out of bed is an issue right now let alone going to anywhere exciting. Instead I have decided to give you 15 things you learn when you move to Maine. I think my fellow transplants will appreciate this.

1. If you were not born in Maine you are from "away". You could live in Maine for decades, but if you do not have a Maine birth certificate you are from "away".

2. "Ayuh!" is a real word.

3. Allan's Coffee Brandy and Moxie are staples in many Maine households.

4. Lobster is super affordable and the only real lobster roll is from Maine. Preferably from a run-down shack right on the water.

5. It is incredibly rude not to smile and at least murmur "Good morning" to passer-bys.

6. You will hear and see ads for winter sports like snow-shoeing, dog-sledding, and ice-fishing all the time.

7. The weather forecasters will let you know if it is safe to go snow-mobiling.

8. The best blueberries are Maine blueberries, especially if you had to climb through a thicket of brush to find them.

9. L.L. Bean, Remy's and Marden's. If you haven't been to these stores at least once, you are not doing it right.

10. Camp is not a place parents send their kids to during the summer to get a break. Camp is a way of life.

11. You want forests? Maine has that. You want the ocean? You've come to the right state. You want lakes, streams, and rivers? Maine has that. You want hills and mountains? Maine has that too. You want to live in the most beautiful place in America? Just come to Maine.

12. Most states have deer-crossing traffic signs. Maine has moose-crossing traffic signs. 

13. The state bird is black fly. Spend one summer in Maine and you will know exactly why.

14. Mainers take a lot of pride in their maple syrup. They even have a whole day to celebrate it.

15. Mainers can be a bit crusty, but they are genuinely the kindest, most honest and most generous people you will ever meet.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life Update 2.0

Exploration has been fairly limited, so I thought instead that I would leave everyone with a life update.

Eating: Strawberries. For whatever reason, the strawberries this winter have been excellent.

Drinking: A lot of water! We have also been enjoying Goose Island Ten Hills Pale Ale and Allagash Midnight Bret Ale. Both of these are excellent. We recently tried the Guinness Blonde American Lager, but it was rather dull. It is a drinkable beer, but it really does not hold a candle to the original Guinness stout.

Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. The novel has been awarded Italy's Chianciano Award, France's Prix de Meilleur Livre Etranger, Venezuela's Rómulo Gallegos Prize, and the Books Abroad/Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Marquez won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1982. I have to be honest, despite its numerous awards, I am not a huge fan so far. This is partly because the book is a little too surreal for my liking and partly because one the themes is incest. I will finish it for the sake of finishing it, but I will probably not re-read it any time soon.

One book I recently finished and thoroughly enjoyed was From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury. It was unlike anything I had ever read before and it is rather hard to describe. I am not even sure what genre it belongs to other than the overarching genre of "fiction". I would definitely recommend it.

Watching: Friends. At this point, who isn't watching it? One of my friends and I will be digging into The Paradise: Series 2 next week!

Doing:...a lot within the community. Christopher and I have become really involved in our church. Last week I also attended part of the Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day. That was a neat experience and I would recommend that everyone in the area attend the events hosted by the University of Maine Humanities Initiative.Also, we seem to be constantly hunkering down for a snowstorm.

Anticipating:...the many, many events to come. With the arrival or spring comes a flood of conferences, parties, concerts, events...oh, and just my thesis defense and graduation. No biggie.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the Super Bowl!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Portland Art Museum

The colder weather makes it difficult to visit new places. When there is a negative twenty-four degree windchill you do not really feel like venturing out too much. Christopher and I did brave the weather a few weeks ago and visiedt the Portland Art Museum. I mostly wanted to visit the museum because they had a British art exhibit with six hundred years worth of art.

Queen Elizabeth I.

One thing that I really enjoy about the Portland Art Museum is that there is a great variety of art. If you like modern art, head to the third and fourth floors. If you like art from the nineteenth century and before, stay on the first and second floors. I think this makes it a museum that a number of people can enjoy.

This was our favorite painting. The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius by Benjamin West. My sad little camera phone does not do it justice.

This was from the fourteenth century and by far the oldest work in the museum.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hadlock Pond- Acadia National Park

Our friends Rhonda and Charlie gave us a pass to Acadia National Park for Christmas! We decided to use our pass two days after Christmas. We drove toward Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island and hiked around Hadlock Pond. The trail around Hadlock Pond intersects with one of the carriage roads which leads up to Bald Peak.

The hike was ridiculously gorgeous. The day was clear and in the forties. We had an unusually warm Christmas, so many of the plants were still alive and kicking. We thoroughly enjoyed our hike and cannot wait to return to Acadia.