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! 

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!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

On our last day in Montreal we visited the Notre-Dame Basilica. The parish has existed since 1672, but the current church building was dedicated in 1829. It was the largest church in North American for 50 years.

The best word I can think to of to describe this church is grand. Everything in this church, from the ground to the ceiling, is elaborate and awe-inspiring.

One of the most amazing things is that the church is maintained from visitor fees and donations. I would highly recommend visiting the church if you are in Montreal. I was genuinely speechless for most of the visit.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Montreal- An Architecture Tour

Montreal had some of the most incredible architecture I have ever seen. I will just let the pictures do the talking.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Best Ice Cream in Bangor

Ice cream stand season is almost upon us! I love ice cream so much- for my birthday I almost always have ice cream instead of cake. Soon this sweet nectar of the gods will be all around us. Here is my list of the best places to grab a cone in the Bangor-area.

1. Gifford's: This is a Maine classic. Thankfully there are a number of stands throughout the state for those of you who do not live in Bangor. I honestly do not have a favorite because I like everything I have tried from them. Freckles loves them too!

2. Jimmie's Ice Cream and Grill: If you are looking for dinner as well as your dessert, this is the place to go. You cannot find a flavor menu online, but just ask what they have got chilling for the day.

3. Wild Cow Creamery: You can find their truck in the summertime next to the Bangor Waterfront. They use all natural ingredients and make their ice cream in their home kitchen. I am a sucker for chocolate, but they have been working on a ton of new flavors recently.

4. What's the Scoop: I have personally never been here (I am rarely on Union Street), but rumor has it that the ice cream (and sandwiches!) here are killer. They also have specialty ice cream desserts that include delicious monstrosities such as the Cookie Explosion or Grease Monkey.

5. Sweet Frog: For those of you who are a *little* more health conscious, let me recommend Sweet Frog's frozen yogurt. You pick your frozen yogurt and put on as many toppings as you like. You pay depending on the weight of your frozen yogurt. I love adding Cinnamon Toast Crunch and strawberries onto my froyo!

6. Specialty Sweets: If you need some gelato in your life, head over to Specialty Sweets next to the Christmas Tree Shoppe. I pretty much died when I tried their dark chocolate flavor. Their truffles are also delicious.