Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thank God it's..."Reading" Week

Well, I'm not sure about the "Reading" part, ;-) but I've been enjoying the week so named by Princeton Theological Seminary. Actually, all of my reading is going to get done at the tail end of the week, but with mom in town from WA we've been doing a lot of playing--and what a beautiful week for playing it has been! Here's the week in review through pictures:

After church on Sunday, I took mom on the pretty country drive out to Doylestown to have tea at the 1814 house and to meet Kevin. Check out Kevin's blog for his account of his first time in a tea room having Afternoon Tea. It's pretty cute!

On Tuesday, mom and I headed into NYC and spent the morning at the Chelsea Food Market (foodies that we are) and then went to a taping of the Martha Stewart show. We tried to get lottery tickets for Wicked but were sadly unsuccessful. However, we had a LOVELY dinner at Le Pain Quotidien including a "wicked" piece of pumpkin pie (with FRESH mint tea) for dessert!

Wednesday night was Raclette Reunion night complete with a Raclette dinner. Lexi's Mom loved meeting Pidge, Bitsy, Gigi and FiOna and we all shared lots of laughs! Gotta love the girlfriend times!

Thursday: Not wanting anyone to ever doubt our commitment to tea, we made the 300 mile roundtrip trek to the Harney and Sons tea shop and tasting room in Millerton, NY. Let me tell you, we stocked up tea BIG TIME! It was a beautiful fall day and the fall colors out our window for much of the ride were spectacular! We are up to our ears in tea now, but that is how we like it! As mom and I like to say, "Seize the day!" :-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Turkey Day???

Well wonders never cease! I finally became used to looking out my apartment windows last winter and seeing groups of deer wandering about looking for food, but I never would have guessed that I'd peer out my window one October afternoon only to find a pack of 5 TURKEYS strutting about my shared backyard! Is this common in New Jersey? This is going on my 5th year in Princeton and it is the first I've ever personally seen some wild turkeys walking around as if they owned the place. I mean, how cool is that? I remember learning in 8th grade American History (with good old Mr. Seaholm) that Ben Franklin loved the turkey and wanted it to be our national bird. In a letter to his daughter, Ben said he found the Eagle to be a bird quite lacking in character whereas "the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on." Hear, hear, Ben! Well put. Enjoy the pix!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When at all possible, go hiking!

Like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and complaining to Moses about their sorry situation, murmurings have arisen as to the outdated post on this 'ole blog of mine! What's a girl to do but satisfy her readers! :-)

Indian summer or not, hiking in the fall on the East Coast has to rank right up there as one of the best weekend activities out there. I mean, with all the fall foliage (even IF the leaves aren't as brilliant this year because of less rain), it is simply spectacular! And of course, hiking with someone special always makes it even better. Kevin and I had the best day hiking at the Delaware Water Gap two weeks ago. We had it all, great soundtrack for the trip there and back, yummy picnic, invigorating exercise, beautiful scenery on the hike and out the car window, great conversation along the way and even a little excitement--what would you know but crossing a small stream we came across a little snake! I did my best to be brave and calmed myself and made my way past it without much more than a little extra adrenalin pumping through my veins. I had to laugh, too, because somehow I had this distinct feeling that the warm weather and the vegetation around us might easily make for a run-in and sure enough, it happened. I feel like I've made significant progress in coping with my fear of snakes. Not only do I now run again on the Canal Path with confidence and ease but I can encounter snakes suddenly on a hike and not turn and run away. Let that be a lessen to all of you wusses out there! Ha! Just kidding! :-)

Aren't Kevin and I a cute hiking couple? :-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Salad Recommendation...with a slight ammendation...

So last night I tried out a new salad recipe courtesy of Everyday Food. Kevin got to partake of it with me, and we both agreed that it is quite tasty indeed and that the salad is particularly appropriate for the fall. The salad is called Roasted Sweet Potato and Watercress Salad but it also has feta cheese and roasted walnuts (tossed with cayenne pepper and evoo to boot!) in it. The watercress is tossed with a little bit of honey, evoo and lemon juice. The only thing I might change, if I were to make it again, is the watercress. While very nice and light, the watercress has long stems which make for an interesting eating challenge. Kevin suggested Romaine, which would be delicious. I think baby spinach might also make for a nice substitute.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Any Irrational Fears?

Okay folks, here's the deal. I am afraid of snakes. I can't stand them. They give me the heebee-geebees (however you spell that)! But my fear of snakes has been fairly dormant in the past few years. See no evil, fear no evil. However, I like to go for walks and runs on the canal path located behind my apartment complex and I've recently found myself watching all the twigs on the path very carefully to make sure none of them looked too snake-like. I wasn't even sure if snakes lived in this area. I kind of naively hoped that New Jersey didn't have snakes or something like that. Nevertheless, once or twice when I've been out running during the past few weeks, I thought I saw some very small snakes on the ground in front of me. I couldn't be sure and they were very small so I just did a quick kind of hop/jump move over that area and ran on my way (probably looked very silly). A few days later though, my friend Brittany and I were out on a power walk. It was a beautiful sunny, September afternoon and we were chatting away like normal when all of the sudden we both let out an ear-piercing scream, stopped in our tracks and grabbed one another's arm. Brittany immediately turned around and started running back and I had to catch up to her and tell her to stop. Now what possibly could have been the source of our screams and fear, you wonder? Yes, you've got it. One big, fat lazy snake sunning itself in the middle of the canal path! Dang! My enjoyment of the canal path has just taken a nose-dive. Brittany and I walked back just as fast as our legs could carry us, all the while our eyes were peeled as we nervously kept watch out for any more snakes. Guoughhhh! Yuck! You can give me slugs, bugs, worms, spiders, etc and I'm fine. I'll be brave. I'll touch them or kill them or move beyond them without any problem. But when it comes to snakes, I have no real grasp on reality. My worst fear is that I'll be out for a run and won't see a snake fast enough and my foot will come down on it, and it will be a horrible interaction of the snake squirming and freaking out and me freaking out and being totally spooked from the experience of actually feeling the snake beneath my foot. I hate to even think of it!

So friends, what should I do? Last run, I took a different route--one where I knew I wouldn't encounter any snakes. Should I keep to this new route until the weather changes and I'm sure the snakes will be gone (this should be by October)? OR--Should I somehow try to face my fears and run on the canal path--come what may? If any of you have an irrational fear or good story that you want to share, please do tell!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh the joy of learning French!

It's been a slow and steady process of learning French this summer. And now on my last night of studying, my last night before my French language exam, which I am required to take and pass (!!!) before the beginning of my second year in the PhD program (which begins next Wednesday), I'm all joy and smiles. Yes, studying French non-stop (almost) all week long will do that to a person. :-) Or will it? Maybe the big grin on my face (thanks for the study break, Brittany!) is instead a symptom of the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, perhaps that is it. Instead of weeping tears of sorrow for the end of French, I'm smiling with glee at the thought of the freedom that will soon be mine come noon tomorrow. Whatever the case may be, this is the end of French, folks. It's been great! But now, alas, back to German I will go....

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Few Highlights from Summer 2007

Well now that summer is over, it strikes me that I should once again update this wee lil' blog o' mine to mark some fun memories from the summer. While much of my summer was indeed spent inside the PTS library working in the media lab, learning French and reading a lot on theological method, I did manage to do some fun things and hang out with many good friends. I'm thankful and I'm sure once the full impact of the craziness of fall semester hits me, I'll be missing those lazier summer days and longing for warmer weather. For now though, I'm excited for what is in store in this coming year. September always marks new beginnings for me, oftentimes more so than January. I am definitely a product of the academic calendar. Plus, fall is my favorite time of year. Who can resist the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, new schoool clothes, pumpkin bread and chai tea and the changing of the leaves? Ah, but before I wax on anymore, here are some summer photo highlights. Enjoy!

Having my dear friends, Katie and Cari, over for our last bible study of the year before we all went separate ways (Cari and Todd moved up to New York and Katie and John to Germany).

The Smythe family having lots of fun at Disneyland--I promise we really aren't that scary looking in real life!

Here I am with both sets of grandparents before my brother's awesome senior recital.

My brother's graduation was in the morning before the hot Cali sun got too intense. Here we are waiting for the ceremony to start and trying to catch glimpses of my brother processing in.

The happy graduate himself!

Celebrating the "Month of Harry Potter" included a Hogarts-esque dinner hosted by my friend Brittany and myself. Brittany and I wanted to embody our role as hosts of this dinner as much as possible, so we dressed up as if we were Hogwarts students in Gryffindor.

After repeatedly telling stories about my fine afternoon tea productions, I finally threw a tea party for Anna Kate, Kara, Brittany and myself (Nicole, we missed you!) to celebrate friendship and the opening of the movie about Jane Austen.

And finally, there was Cape Cod, Labor Day Weekend, 2007--a.k.a: The Raclettes (Lexi, Pidge, Bitsy, Gigi and Fiona) do the Cod!

We spent a nice day relaxing on the beach at Buzzards Bay! I even enjoyed a refreshing swim in the Atlantic ocean.

Here's the cute little cottage we stayed at (thanks to the hospitality of Jeff and Nicole!)

We took turns cooking for each other each night and had all sorts of great conversations around the table!

Catching the sunset on our last night

Friday, June 08, 2007

Trek Hybrid 7200, Yeah Baby!

Check out my new wheels! :-) Hurray! I'm so excited about my bike purchase. It has been a long time in the making and I finally took the plunge. I even bought a brand-spanking-new bike instead of a used one. Whoa!!! Don't worry though, I thoroughly researched my purchase and I think I made a great investment! I even outfitted the bike with a nifty front basket to carry my books/lunch/purse as I ride to and from work (PTS library) all summer and hopefully even into the fall a bit. My ride this morning was nice. I can take a canal path about half of the way and then have a sidewalk next to a busy road to use the rest of the way. The sidewalk part is a slow and steady upward grade and by the time I arrived at the library I had worked up a decent sweat, which induced me to give thanks for once for our ever-freezing library! The ride home was an easy one as I can coast most of the way to the canal path. And with the temps as high as they were today, I was glad for it. Of course after just a few trips my legs are already asking me what's going on. I've not been on a bike ride since last summer after all. That's okay. I'll adjust. I just hope my "seat" adjusts along with my legs! ;-) So, here's to saving gas money, cutting down on my share of pollution, reducing morning/afternoon traffic stress, and getting to exercise while getting to and from school! I'll drink to that! Any ideas for bike names?

Monday, May 14, 2007

"Oh no I di'int!"

Here's one that will go down in Shannon history: Was out to dinner with some girlfriends on Friday night, celebrating the end of the school year. We were at this place in town called Triumph Brewing Company and were seated upstairs. The bar was down below. Well, dinner was good and conversation supreme. We were wrapping up our meal and I was talking about the "SNL Through the 90s" show that I had seen on TV the other night. I mentioned loving Molly Shannon and her funny characters like Mary Katherine Gallager, and the joyologist/"luv it" lady. I was getting revved up in my story-telling and shared about how I often used to do impersonations of these characters. I started doing the classic "luv it" lady move where she crosses and kicks up her leg a lot while she says "I luv it, I luv it, I luv it!" My friends were laughing. "Oh, funny Shannon!", they were probably thinking. They hadn't seen me do this before. Well, all of the sudden, the little navy blue ballet flat I'm wearing comes off my foot as I'm kicking up my leg. It flies high into the air (high ceiling building) and then begins its descent all the way down to the first floor, in the bar. Oops!!!! Double oops when we discover it has hit a lady sitting down there. A manager brings my shoe up to me and I gratefully accept it and apologize. One catch though, there is this other guy with him who is bristling and says that there is going to be a big problem because the shoe hit his wife. He is really angry and looks like he's ready to punch someone's lights out. I apologize, call him sir, explain that it was an accident. He realizes he can't beat me up. He realizes I'm a woman, sitting at a table of women. If I had been a man, I think he would've hit me. But, thankfully the manager was right next to him and explained that he saw what happened and that it was an accident. The man leaves and storms back downstairs. OMG--it was crazy! It went from being incredibly embarassing to nightmarish in a matter of seconds. Thankfully everything ended fine. I was mortified, but my friends were still laughing. They thought the impersonation was even better with the shoe flying off. And apparently the look on my face was something! I just can't believe I did something so stupid (on accident of course!). Yikes! I don't think my friends will let me live this one down anytime soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Another one bites the dust....AND Meeting the Indigo Girls!

So, the first year of my Ph.D program is officially done. Yesterday, at approximately 11:55am, I turned in my last paper of the semester. Woohoooooooo!!!! I've been at this "higher education" for some time now, and what never ceases to amaze me is the feelings I go through immediately after turning in my last paper for the academic year. It is usually always the same feeling but somehow I forget what it feels like until it is really upon me again. It is something like surreal. And yet it is also always a bit anticlimatic because I have this moment where I think, "Now what do I do?" That's so funny. It's like, I've been going and going and pushing and pushing and all of the sudden the weight I've been carrying drops off and I'm disoriented. When this happened yesterday I went home and crashed for 3 hours. That was nice. Although I always have to fight the guilt that threatens to ruin it. My brain desparately searches for something else I should be doing with the time (i.e., cleaning my apartment!) until I tell myself to calm down and give it a rest! :-)

Well, the laziness didn't last for long. Last night and today I started putting my together my summer calendar--organizing my independent study, coming up with my reading list for my dissertation topic, figuring out how long I need to learn French on my own , and parceling then it all out on my summer calendar. I'm afraid that maybe I've got too much to do and not enough time. I'm going to have to be very disciplined to stay on top of it all. My hope is that if I can schedule my days well, I'll have time to relax and enjoy summer, exercise AND get all my work done. Thankfully, I've got some summer jobs in the library that will really provide me with study time while I'm on the clock. Thank goodness for that!!!!!

Just as I got through the first year of my Ph.D program, which is a huge accomplishment and one more step toward my goal of being a theology professor, I also accomplished another personal goal last week. Yes, yes, I did. I took a study break and went to an Indigo Girls concert.....AND, I got to meet them afterwards! It was great! They are my FAVORITE band EVER and meeting them was awesome!! They were very chill and down to earth and friendly. Amy even asked me what what my name is. Ha! It was cool!!!! :-)
Here are my pix from the meeting! You can see that I'm very excited!!!

That's Amy Ray and me!

And this is Emily Saliers and me!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mind What Your Mother Says...

Mom thinks it is high time I updated this blog. Other friends have hinted at this over the past couple of months, too. Sorry folks! Not that you sit anxiously chomping at the bit awaiting my little blog posts. Geez! You know I save the good stuff for face to face or voice to voice anyway! I should let you all know that the scene outside my windows is finally looking different. Trees are budding and/or in bloom. The grass is really, really green. I'm sneezing and blowing my nose from the pollen. It is dark out now otherwise I'd take a photo and post it. New Jersey is beautiful in the springtime. It just takes a long time for Spring to come. We are in the last week of classes and trees or only now blooming. This is a bit behind schedule if you ask me. I've tried to keep track of when the trees begin to bloom since moving away from the Evergreen state to New Jersey and I expect it by the first of April. Not this year though!

Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the couch with my feet up, trying to look relaxed while I scrunch my head and burn brain calories translating a German translation of a Greek text into English. Did ya catch that? It's for a final paper and a doozy of a one at that. I'm happy working on it, though and that is always a good thing, right!?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Happy Spring Semester!!!!

I took a little blogging break as I enjoyed my "one week of freedom" in the academic year that is Princeton Theological Seminary's! Hah! And even that had reading to prep for classes for spring semester! Oh, well! I enjoyed myself--lots of movies, cleaning and organizing the apartment and hanging with good friends. Not going to complain. And then, I rolled out of bed today, after hitting snooze once or twice (ouch--back to a normal sleep schedule) to discover a beautiful view from my windows. I love looking out to the back of our building rather than to the front, where the street and parking lot are! It was just a dusting, and so classes were on normal schedule (God's got a wicked sense of humor as I know for a fact some people were on their knees begging/praying for a big snow and cancellation of classes today). The dusting was just fine with me as I was excited for my classes (the two I had today were FABULOUS!). It was so beautiful, too! I'd still love one big snow dump, but as winter can stick around until the first of April in grand 'ole New Jersey, there is still hope!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hostess of the Mostess?

So, my friend Nicole stayed with me for a few days a week back because her apartment was loaned out to friends and she ended up needing to come back earlier than expected. We had a grand 'ole time. Only problem was that the poor girl is addicted to Diet Coke (she drinks it for breakfast!). She found my beverage offerings to be somewhat limited in that 1.) I have no soda in the apartment, 2) that left me with milk, water, OJ and tons of tea to offer her, and 3.) Nicole thinks tea tastes like grass and will have nothing to do with it. Thus, she kept having to go down to the lobby and buy Diet Coke from the vending machine. Well, once Nicole left and went back to her own apartment I wised up and purchased a 6 pack of mini Diet Coke (they were just too cute to pass up and I'd always wanted to buy the minis) to have around for hosting purposes. My friend, Anna Kate, pictured above, is also pretty connected to her Diet Coke so I figured my purchase was a good investment. And so it was with great pleasure the other night that I was able to offer her a Diet Coke to drink when she came over to my place. Well the plan was that this little six pack would last me a while as I generally never drink coke myself. Herein is the problem. I've been in "finals mode" going on three weeks now and my eating hasn't been the greatest, especially this last week. Pizza, Chinese food take-out, homemade paninis and tuna melts, you get the point. My little pack of mini Diet Cokes came to mind each time I sat down to one of these nutritious dinners. Lo and behold, I am now out of Diet Cokes! Oops! So much for my grand plan. I'm either a) going to have to buy more in order to continue to be a good host and risk the fact that I might also drink them myself or b.) quit buying them so that I don't keep drinking them and risk being a bad host. What's a girl to do? Any thoughts???

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When I was a child...

and still in diapers, "wipes" were a way of life. Now that I am an adult, I've been reintroduced to them. The ones pictured above are for adults. Watch out, now. I see you laughing. Don't mock until you give 'em a try. It just might revolutionize your life. It did mine!