Monday, May 28, 2018

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This past April I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for the first time. I am not usually a huge fan of art museums, but I absolutely adored this one. 

I spent around 4.5 hours at the museum and perhaps only saw a quarter of the museum exhibits. I often get bored in art museums after about an hour or two because I do not find paintings to be too terribly exciting. The Museum of Fine Arts had sculptures, masks, furniture, and artifacts from every period and region. I was engaged by the interesting and clever exhibits for the entirety of my visit. 

I explored the exhibits focused on ancient African history, Revolutionary and Early Republic New England, eighteenth-century American art, ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia and the Persian Empire, and Monet paintings. Naturally I loved everything associated with the American Revolution and the Early Republic. I also enjoyed the exhibits that focused on ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Persian Empire. 

One thing I loved about the museum were the "mini" exhibits. There were small rooms throughout the museum that would be focused on one or two art pieces. One room was meant to imitate an ancient Egyptian burial antechamber. All of the walls were covered in actual Egyptians bricks and the room temperature was cranked up to simulate a hot Egyptian summer. Another room was cold and dark and featured a European Medieval stained glass window and a statue of a man praying. These little rooms made it feel as if you had just discovered something special and intimate. 

Next time I hope to focus more on the European and modern art. There is so much to explore in this museum and I am excited to visit again. 

Here are some tips if you plan on visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:  

  • Skip the expensive and mediocre museum cafes and lunch at a nearby restaurant. 
  • If you plan on visiting the museum for more than 4 hours, valet park instead of using the parking structure. They cost about the same and you will not have to deal with the stress of the parking structure. 
  • Members are free. Children under the age of 6 are always free and children between the ages of seven and seventeen are free during weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston public school holiday. There is a small senior discount. There also seemed to be a deal going on involving Bank of America members. 
  • Participants in the University Membership program receive free admission. New Hampshire and Maine resident students also receive free admission, so my ticket was free! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

April Update

April went by in a flash. I am slightly slacking on my New Year's resolution, but for now here is the April update. I will have a post coming soon about my experience at the Boston Art Museum and my research trip to Canada. 

What have we been up to? 
We kicked-off a very busy travel season this past month. At the beginning of April, Christopher and I went to PAX East in Boston to cover for Christopher checked out the booths and conducted interviews, while I spent my day at the Boston Art Museum. Last week I visited Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia for a conference and research trip. 

We also watched the Kenduskeag Stream Race. It is one of my favorite spring traditions in Bangor. 

April was also the month of parties, projects, and appointments. The speed of life always picks up in Maine during the spring. We are very excited about some of the projects we will be working on during the summer and early autumn. 

Does archival work count? Once again pleasure reading was on the back burner during the month of April. My eyes were instead drawn to the ever-complicated and inconsistent spelling of eighteenth and nineteenth century writers and clerks.  

Christopher and I checked out Iron Man 2 from our local library in preparation for the new Avengers movie. We enjoyed the movie and found it to be light and entertaining.  I did not otherwise watch or continue any television shows or Netflix series. Our busy schedule meant that we usually spent our evenings working. I hope that summer vacation will lead to a little more down time. There are a number of movies I am particularly excited to see in theaters this summer. 

We did not try any new recipes this month, but we continued to experiment with variations of this ramen recipe. Christopher made the wonderful mistake of putting these treasures in my Easter basket. 

Christopher and I both individually picked up at different times the Concannon Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a pretty basic wine that I think most people would enjoy. It is something one could easily bring to parties. 

I hope that you had a wonderful April and that you have an even better May. I am so glad we have made it to spring! 

Monday, April 9, 2018

March Update

March has come and gone. We are looking forward to the new season and all that spring has in store for us. The winter was dark, but the new season brings so much hope and anticipation.

What have we been up to? 

In all honesty, March was a rather dull month. We have both been working a lot and did not spend too much time out of our respective offices. We did visit a new-to-us maple farm in Exeter during Maine Maple Sunday. If you have been reading this blog for a bit then you know I am a big fan of local traditions and festivals. We always try to make time for fun "holidays" like Maine Maple Sunday and Maine Apple Sunday. This year we ate lunch at Countryside Restaurant and Bakery in East Corinth, visited Cider Hill Maple Farm in Exeter, and made a pit stop at the Robyville covered bridge. It was a fun afternoon and a much needed reprieve from the stress of March.


I am still working on This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. After months of reading for my comprehensive exams, it has been nice to give my brain a bit of a break. I have a feeling that I will jump back into both academic and leisure reading in the coming season.


I was sick multiple times during March and started a few different TV shows. At the beginning of the month when I was down with the flu, I watched Godless on Netflix. I thought that the writing was a little erratic, but the cinematography was gorgeous. I also watched the Frankenstein Chronicles. I found the show to be rather dull and underwhelming. Sean Bean does a great job with the little material he has, but even Boromir/Ned Stark cannot carry the bad writing. Once I recovered from the flu, I did not finish the first season. I may or may not return to it.

Christopher and I decided to experiment with some vegetarian recipes this month. I have heard that throwing in a vegetarian dinner once a week can be good for your body and wallet. We loved these 15 Minute Sesame Ramen Noodles and Caramel Chipotle Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls. We definitely still need to play around with this baked falafel recipe, but we were surprised by how filling the meal was. I cannot say if these meals are truly better for our bodies and wallets yet, but I was surprised by how delicious and filling most of these meals were.

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I cannot remember all the new things we drank during this past month. I remember enjoying Fore Rivers Estuary IPA and despising Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy. The rest are a blur. I promise to keep better track next month.

Here is to a bigger and better spring. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

February Update

We are two months into 2018 and so far I have kept my promise to blog more consistently. Here is February in review.

A foggy day in Wadsworth Cove
So what happened this month?

I spent the month of February catching up on everything that I had neglected during my comprehensive exams- funding applications, chores, relationships, etc. Some fun activities included visiting our friends in Belfast and celebrating Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend.


This month I jumped back into fiction. I read Pink Chimneys: A Novel of Nineteenth Century Maine by Ardeana Hamlin and started reading This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of our neighbors gifted us Pink Chimneys when we first moved to the neighborhood. I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I did find this work to be entertaining. If you find yourself slogging through the first hundred pages, keep reading. The second half of this book is better than the first. I enjoyed reading a book written by a local author about the surrounding area.

A vintage copy of Longfellow's poems I found at the Castine Historical Society

Christopher and I continued watching Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return. I did not really watch much outside of my usual YouTube subscriptions. I plan to start watching Victoria after I have finished the second season of The Crown. I do not usually watch "historical" TV shows, but both have been recommended multiple times. I think people tend to avoid watching/reading things that are related to their careers. For example, I have heard that doctors stay away from shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Resident.

Eating and Drinking

We did not try any new recipes this month, but we did visit a few new-to-us restaurants. We particularly enjoyed Alexia's Pizza in Belfast and the famous Duck Fat in Portland. The french fries at Duck Fat were insanely addicting. We would visit both of these restaurants again in a heartbeat.

We did not try any new beers, but we did enjoy a bottle of Cadetto Tenuta La Lumia: Nero d'Avola. It was delicious and the perfect accompaniment to our Valentine's Day lasagna.

February has been the month of catch-up, but I think March will be the month of consistency. March tends to be a weird month for weather in Maine. Spring tries to elbow its way in, but winter usually wins out. I am looking forward to all the St. Patrick's Day and Easter festivities, Maine Maple Sunday, Spring Break, warmer weather, lazy weekends, and diving into the research for my dissertation. 

I hope that you had a wonderful February and that your March is even better. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

President's Weekend

How are there only five days left in February? This month has absolutely flown by. I still feel as if I am catching up on everything I had not time to do before my comprehensive exams. My goals for the month of February were to catch up on life, settle into a more consistent schedule, and relax. I have not succeeded very much in my last goal. I definitely plan on taking a few days off in March to help heal my harried mind. 

Part of the Walden-Parke Preserve trail crosses with the Veazie Railroad bed (c. 1836-1869)

Christopher and I prefer quiet Valentine celebrations. On Valentine's Day we made lasagna at home together and watched a movie. On Saturday we celebrated the holiday by going tubing on New Hermon Mountain. We had an absolute blast and flew down the hill at least a dozen times. We ended our date by sharing a a fried doughboy in their cafe. 

On President's Day we hiked through Walden-Parke Preserve. Walden Parke-Preserve is part of the Bangor Land Trust and one of the many preserves that surround the Bangor City Forest. We enjoyed our hike, but we had a difficult time traversing through the snow and ice. We plan on returning to the forest in the spring when the trails will be a little easier to navigate. There are a number of birch trees in the forest and I think it would be a particularly beautiful spot in the autumn. 

I hope you had a restful President's Day weekend. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

An Afternoon in Belfast

One of my goals after my comprehensive exams was to get away for a day or two. This never quite happened due to some scheduling conflicts, but we did manage to meet some friends for dinner in Belfast.

Belfast is roughly 30 miles southwest of our home. Belfast was once the summer fishing grounds of the Penobscot tribe and was settled by Scots-Irish proprietors in the 1770's. The town was a center for shipbuilding and seafood harvesting throughout the nineteenth century. Belfast also became active in the poultry industry, but this businesses collapsed in the economic recession of the 1970's. People began to return to Belfast in the 1990's and 2000's thanks to the natural beauty of the area, the "back-to-the-land" movement, and the abundance of inexpensive houses and land. Today Belfast is once again active in ship manufacturing and is known for its many street art exhibits and unique stores.

There are a number of things I love about Belfast. First, I like that Belfast still has a working waterfront. It is fun to watch the various boats come in and out of the harbor. Second, I love the number of unique shops that are in downtown Belfast. Many "tourist" towns are filled with your typical sweatshirt/key-chain/mug souvenir shops, but Belfast hosts a variety of stores. My personal favorites include Left Bank Books, Coyote Moon, Brambles, and Eat More Cheese. Last, I love the many places there are to walk in Belfast. The footbridge across the Passagassawakeag River is particularly beautiful. 

Belfast will always be one of my favorite towns to "escape" to when Bangor begins to feel too claustrophobic. I would highly recommend visiting if you want to visit a coastal town with less tourists. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

January Update

Back when I regularly updated this blog, I wrote seasonal/monthly updates that would include items that we were enjoying. I thought it might be nice to revive the tradition, especially during the cold, dark days of winter. 

The super blue blood moon eclipse

So what happened this month?
First and foremost, I passed my comprehensive exams on January 30th! My Ph.D. is not over, but this is a major milestone. I am now a Ph.D. "candidate" instead of a Ph.D. "student". My major focuses over the new few months/years will be to research and write my dissertation and work on becoming a professional historian. 

I usually hate photos of myself, but I do love this one. This photo was taken after my final exam. I do not look my "best", but all of my emotions are written on my face. 

I also learned some good news about a few summer projects. I am the 2018 Visiting Scholar for the Mount Desert Island Historical and will be writing an article on religious history for the 2019 edition of their journal Chebacco. I also will be the the project manager for a walking tour app for the Castine Historical Society

Christopher spent the second week of January on the west coast attending CES for He is currently working on reviewing a set of coolers. We plan to take a few days off in the month of February to relax after a few hectic months. 

Nothing! After months and months of reading I need a little break. I do plan on re-reading my favorite book, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and maybe dig into a few Margaret Atwood books. I have never read any of her works and one recent show piqued my interest. 

I turned to Netflix over the last few weeks to escape my monstrous pile of reading. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return has provided some major comic relief. I particularly loved "The Beast of Hollow Mountain" and their reference to the infamous (and one of my all-time favorites) episode "The Touch of Satan". 

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I also loved Alias Grace. The show was suspenseful but not scary, critical but not pedantic, and beautifully filmed. I liked that there was not a clear answer to the major question haunting the series. I would highly recommend this show and I am eager to read the book. 

Last but not least, I may now have a minor obsession with The Crown. The filming, acting, and writing are all excellent. I finished Season 1 and just started Season 2. 

Eating and Drinking:
January was, rather randomly, the month we discovered soba noodles. We really love variations of this recipe and have made it at least once a week. 

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For Christmas we purchased Ommegang's "Winter is Coming" gift pack. We drank "Fire and Blood" this month, a red ale brewed with ancho chiles. It was seriously delicious. I have a soft spot for "spicy" beers. 

To celebrate my comps, I opened a bottle of Concannon Vineyard's 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. It is not my favorite cab, but it is a strong contender. 

What did your January look like? I am looking forward to a quieter February and a more stable schedule. Have a great weekend!