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 usually 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". 

Image from
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. 

Image from
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! 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Staying Close to Home- January 2018

True to my word, I am back with another blog post. The first dozen or so days of January have been cold, snowy, and full of preparation. 

For those of you who do not know, I am currently preparing for my comprehensive exams in my Ph.D. program. I have five committee members and each of them has assigned me a list of roughly 25-45 books that they feel are important for me to know. Each professor will ask me a pedagogical or historiographical (the history of history) question and I will be expected to respond in four hours with a written answer. After four written exams, all of my committee members will meet in one room and will commence with an oral examination. The oral exam will focus on my "outside" field with my fifth committee member. The other four members will also follow up with questions from my written exams. 

To say the least, it is an intense process. I will be quite relieved on January 30th at 3:45pm when the exams are finished. You know the feeling after a big meal when someone has offered you another dish or dessert and you feel you cannot possibly eat any more? That is how I currently feel, but with words, names, and information. Thanks to my examination prep, the "arctic freeze", and the "bomb cyclone", I have spent most of my days inside pouring over books and notes. It has been so cold that even Freckles has wanted to just lay in bed. 

Christopher is currently on the other side of the country right now attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas for He will get to spend about two days with our families and then will be back here (when another cold front hits) Sunday morning. 

Thankfully, my new snowshoes have been getting me outdoors. The pictures you see in this blog are from my snowshoeing excursions. I am still exercising and eating well even though I am in the middle of my exam prep.  

Let's hope that I can remember to keep updating this blog and that more interesting adventures are in the future. I am very much looking forward to February! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! (And Where the Heck Have We Been?)

Happy New Year everyone! It has been almost two years since I sat down to write a blog post, but I feel like now is the time to come back. One of my New Year's resolutions is to really connect and re-connect with family and friends. I feel like this blog was one of the best ways to keep everyone updated when we first moved to Maine. I do feel like I owe everyone who used to read this blog an explanation before I jump into a life update.

2016 was a difficult year. Christopher and I spent all of our time trying to fulfill far too many commitments. My health also took a turn for the worse that year. I was always sick and spent the end of that year covered hives.

Sunrise on December 30th, 2017

However, the main reason I stopped blogging was because of the ill effects of a medication I started in December 2015. The medication made me tremendously depressed and contributed to a ton of weight gain. I did not want the outside world to see how my body and attitude had changed.

My New Year's resolution for 2017 was to say "no" more. I was determined to regain control of my schedule, health, and life. I stopped taking the detrimental medication in January 2017 and automatically felt as if I had been lifted from a fog. I spent the remainder of the year streamlining my schedule and making sure that I only committed to things that I was passionate about and/or advanced my career.

This past August I decided to lose the weight I had gained while on medication. My total goal was 40 lbs. I have lost roughly 25 lbs. since August and have never felt healthier, stronger, or more confident about my appearance and health.

My plan for this blog is to start posting updates and adventures again. I love that this blog initially helped me to stay connected to far-away friends and family. If anyone is interested, I might also post about the health and weight loss journey that I have experienced so far. I most certainly do not intend to turn this into a "health" blog, but I think everyone can use a little encouragement.

Happy New Year! And remember, your emotional and physical health are worth the investment.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

While we were in Montreal we visited the Museum of Fine Arts. We were particularly excited to see the Pompeii exhibit, but we made sure to check out some of the other exhibits too.

The museum itself has a very modern design.

The Pompeii exhibit was chilling.

Another exhibit focused on Napoleon.

So much more art!