Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fitness Progress

It was right after coming back from the Dominican Republic for my brother's wedding that I began to work out. I saw photos of my pale self in a bikini, belly hanging out, playing chicken and I thought, hmmm better fix that. So from as soon as I landed back in the good ol' USA (and had conquered my bout of food poisoning) I hit the gym.

(You bet I untagged myself from these)

When I first walked into the new redesigned Johnson Fitness Center on campus I was afraid there would be troves of sorority girls on treadmills and lax bros lifting, but they weren't all there at 10 am on a tuesday. So I popped in some headphones and brought my baggy t-shirted self over to the stair master. That's when I noticed my friend Nina there. I confessed I didn't go to the gym often (the only time I went was freshman year with my roommate. It was the only time we hung out and she was crazy athletic) and if she wouldn't mind showing me the ropes. I tagged along watching as she showed me the machines, how to use the free weights, kettle bells, crunches. We then made a pact to meet every tuesday and thursday morning that semester. And you know what, we stuck to it. My friends Sam and Karyn also slowly became my other gym buddies and I was so motivated that I was practically going everyday to the gym. By the end of the semester we were noticing that exercises that were once difficult, we were pushing even harder for and we were starting to get muscle tone.

Then school let out and I headed out to Texas to visit Gerred for two weeks. I decided I would keep the exercise and the healthy eating up while I was there and he supported me. We would head to gym on base and he like Nina would show me new moves to work different muscle groups. The next day Gerred said, "let's go for a run on the beach." I took on the challenge and turned on my Strava app and we ran from his house, across the street, and to the beach. We ran the stretch as I listened to Backstreet boys and Spice Girls. He kept me motivated when I was ready to pass out from the Texas heat, telling me to run and slap his hand. When we finished the race I saw the achievements I unlocked and how faster I raced.

When I got back home on June 1st I noticed that Strava had updated the app with challenges. The challenges all had different specifications to help motivate you and see how you stack up against competitors. Essentially this is my lonely person's gym buddy. I can run with friends anywhere they were, see the work we did and give kudos and motivation. Naturally I signed up for three challenges: The June Doogle Run, The June Doogle Bike and The Any Way 10k.
The June Doogle is essentially challenging you to run (or bike depending on the challenge) as many kilometers as you can during the month of June. So far I'm at 33km for the June Doggle run and an improperly logged 10km (it reads 0km for now) from the bike ride I did with my dad on the Piney Orchard Nature Trail.
The Any Way 10k challenges you to run a 10k as fast as you can between June 15th and June 16th. I completed this today and I'm really surprised with myself since I've never run a 10k before and I all of a sudden up and ran it. Basically I owe my completion to the entire fitness journey I've gone through since February. I got myself to the gym, on a bike, and running as fast as I can. I'm proud of myself and ready to continue on. I have lost 10 pounds since January and would love to see where I'll be by next year.

P.S. Do you guys have Strava? If you do follow me here.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Maryland Country Adventures

My dad races bikes. He recently did a 60 mile in the backroads of the Maryland countryside. When he got back from the race he told me he saw lots of interesting barns and sights and that the next day he would take me out to see them. So we did and we had a photo adventure together. I got to try out my new camera and he practiced using my old one as we poked around little farms.

Honestly, I am in love with my Canon Rebel T3i and I really enjoyed spending the day exploring with my dad.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

College Art

I mentioned I took a Creative Process class this past semester where I mixed stories, watercolors, and portraiture. It wasn't my first art class in college I took for fun. During my first semester at Washington College I took a beginning drawing class and produced some of these pictures. I happened upon them when I was organizing iPhoto and I thought I'd reflect on them. Caution: Nude pictures up ahead. Calm yourself, it's art.

This was a picture that I was allowed to do whatever I wanted with. I used chalk to draw and had a fun time with all the colors. I don't even know what the meaning of this is. I think I just drew what was a dream turning into a nightmare.

Ah, nude models. There was a creepy man that came in and posed in a million different ways. I then was assigned to do a large scale drawing of five different poses. I wound up with this. I remember not wanting to draw the penises at all so there are mostly blue shadow ken doll areas.

The assignment for this one was to take a photo from a magazine, cut it up and come up with what the rest of the photo would look like using oil pastels. I used an Annie Leibovitz photo from Vogue of Lady Gaga and Lily Cole and Andrew Garfield from the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

DIY Laundry Board

For the longest time my mom would and I would put the laundry out to dry on top of couches, chairs, tables. They would wind up with plenty of orange cat hair on them and no one would be able to sit. I decided one day that this whole issue could be avoided if we jut had a designated clothes line or laundry rack. I began to look them up with my parents and found a beautiful one, but it cost way way too much. So we thought back to the DIY headboard project we did and thought "hey, why don't we just make our own laundry board?"

2 chains
1 beat board
4 wooden planks
1 clasp
2 hinges
12 dowel rods

First assemble it...yes I came into the game too late for this one. Basically, you need to build a frame that measures exactly to the beat board. Then space out the dowel rods throughout and secure them in place.  Attach hinges at the base to connect the wooden frame and the beat board so that they open like a book.  Once done, paint the wood.

The second task is to attach the chains so that when extended the board can stay up to dry the clothes. Lastly attache a clasp on the side so that you can keep the board lying against the wall when you're laundry isn't being dried. I'm not sure when that time would be though. It seems that laundry is a constant.

Then pull out that laundry board and hang your clothes on it!
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tech Spring Cleaning: The Phone

Spring is almost at its close with Summer just around the corner. Now that I'm done with school and my big New Mexico/Texas trip, I'm cracking down on my spring cleaning. I'm not just including the classic cleaning out of the closet. I've also tacked on tech spring cleaning where I'll be going through the files on my computer, photos on my phone, deleting old e-mails and making sure to back up everything. Today I'll be talking about the phone primarily.


The first thing to tackle is the phone. For awhile there I could barely do a thing on my phone because I didn't have the space for it. After sorting and going through all the old photos and contacts I don't need on my phone any longer I am much happier. 

Plug it In || Update the software on your phone and back it up. Back it up. (apps, photos, notes, etc.)

Photos || Delete unnecessary photos. The best way to do this is not to click on camera roll but to go to photos. Edit and select the photos you want to delete. I went through what was 1,000+ photos and narrowed them down to 484.

Texts || Mine range back to 2010 and have never been cleared. I'd wipe the whole slate clean.

Apps || Go through and delete the apps you don't need and update the apps you're keeping (plug it in if you have to.) Organize apps into folders. Put games with games, all social media in a social folder, and fitness and health in their own folder and so on.

Notes || Have any old grocery notes? Reminders? Random ideas? Delete them. I keep a few lists for travel ideas, movies I'd like to see, restaurants I've eaten at, blog post ideas, and my favorite books and what I'd like to read.

Voicemail || Record a new voicemail. For about a year I've had the default greeting so I thought I'd make the change. "You've reached Shannon Kirby. I'm not able to answer my phone right now, but leave a message and I'll call you right back." Also delete old messages and recent and sent calls.

Contacts || See any names you don't recognize? Placeholders that don't make sense (I have in here "Some British Guy") See people you knew from middle or high school that you sure don't talk to anymore? Ex-boyfriends? Delete them. Once you have the ones you want to keep put them into groups.

I hope that these tips help you have a much more organized phone with lots more space for photos and music!
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Monday, June 3, 2013

New Mexico (With a hint of San Antonio)

After 2 1/2 weeks my vacation is over and I'm back in the blogging world. I am incredibly grateful for my future in-laws to fly me out to New Mexico for Geralyn & LisaMarie's wedding. I had really done a lot of flying this year (Florida, Dominican Republic, and Florida again) so I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fly out but they made sure I did. And I'm so glad I got to go out and spend some time with Gerred's family (before he flew out for the wedding on Saturday.) So from Wednesday onward I spent time with Majella, Larry, Gerome, Geralyn, and LisaMarie and enjoyed myself.

Uncle Gerred || Gerred's an uncle to Adam, Aaron (and now Adena now that Geralyn and LisaMarie are married.) He's an incredible uncle, as soon as his nephews and niece saw him they all jumped into his arms at once and shouted "Uncle Gerred." I'm not an aunt yet, but when I get married I will be. Or you know when Ryan and Jenn have kids (can I say that? I just did, oh well.)

Jameson + Green Tea || Gerome and I headed to a dive bar in Downtown Albuquerque and I asked if they had any good drinks that did not involve beer or vodka. She asked if I liked whisky and if there was a camera present I would've broke the first wall and replied "Do I like whisky?" Of course, all I said was "Yesssss" and then she said I know just the thing. She handed me a jameson and green tea and it tasted fantastic.
Hanging with Gerome || We played pool, saw The Great Gatsby. (Side note about the film, it was a great Baz Luhrmann film with a great selection of Jay-Z approved songs, but I'm not sure it was the real F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation I was looking for which honestly how can anyone do that. Fitzgeralds words are poetry! Overall a good movie though.) I got to see UNM and walk on the catwalk, see a play and meet a bunch of his friends. It was a nice bonding experience.

Literary Rogues || I got to finish this book that my cousin, Tom, got for me. It's all about the rougish lives of authors all throughout history and details their alcholism, drug abuse, wierd sex events, jail time, murder and what not. I loved that I recognized most of the writer's the book mentions and that I was surprised by all that I learned. Good read if you're an English major that always enjoys hearing the interesting biographical points that are often skipped over in lectures.

Geralyn & LisaMarie's Wedding || Saturday May 18, 2013 Geralyn and LisaMarie were finally married at the Rio Rancho Inn. New Mexico hasn't legalized gay marriage yet, but when they do they'll be signing the marriage certificate. Their wedding was touching to see because these women truly love one another. And they weren't just marrying each other, they were celebrating a union of a family with the children. The kids got to go up for the sand ceremony as LisaMarie poured in her pink, Geralyn poured in the purple, and all three kids poured in Teal. Geralyn, LisaMarie, Adam, Adena, and Aaron are all family now and I am happy for them.

Cake & Recpetion || The rainbow cupcakes were unique and tasty. I also really enjoyed dancing with the happy couple, the bridesmaids I befriended, the kids (Adam is a fantastic Michael Jackson dancer) and of course, Gerred.

Flying to Texas || The next day after the wedding was over and the happy couple flew out to Hawaii, Gerred and I hopped on our own play and made our way to Texas. We flew into San Antonio, Texas. We initially were just going to drive the 3 hours back to his home in Corpus Christi, but we decided to spend some time in the city and explore.

Margarita's on the River Walk || We explored the River Walk and enjoyed some delicious Margaritas while overlooking the river at night. It was great to finally share a drink at a bar with my fiance and well to spend time with him again.

My third time in the land of Enchantment was wonderful and I'm so blessed to have the Steckel/Olona/St.Clair's as part of my future family.
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Friday, May 24, 2013

End of Semester Recap

You know what, when it comes to blogging I tend to have an uneven ratio of words to pictures. And I'm really ok with that. I understand there's a lot of TLDR out there and I think most of my pictures can say a lot already. That's why I love instagram. I get to essentially mini blog which is super helpful for letting everyone know what's going on in my life without me writing a book all the time. Anyways, I never shared how the end of semester ended up: I was high stress with finals and then immediately went into vacation. Well I'll have you know I made out with some of the best grades this semester and managed to have fun towards the end, shocking I know.

PopPop || He's been living with us lately because his apartment building caught fire (his room is okay, they're just rebuilding.) It's fun having him around since he's a pretty fun party kind of guy.

Alcohol Gifts || I relieved a variety of drinks from my family. Whiskey, champagne, wine, vodka, and rum. And of course a book of drunk writers, Literary Rogues.

Kacie and Me || Kacie and I are finally 21 and got to drink with the family together at Pusser's.

BBC Drink in Ocean City || Mom and I went to Ocean City for Mother's Day weekend. I went to look for jobs and a place for me and 9 friends from Ireland to crash. The search was near impossible, so I wound up looking in Annapolis (to my luck.) Even though searching was hard my mom and I had a great time bonding and drinking wine and tropical drinks.

3 Years || Gerred and I have been dating for 3 years now. May 9, 2010 is when we made it official and August 30, 2012 is when he proposed. I'm happy to marry this guy one day and can't wait to start planning and you know, making a real wedding date.

Mother's Day Mimosa || On Mother's Day I told my Dad "Let's make mom egg white omelets with feta cheese and the whole shibang" he agreed, but I wound up not cooking that at all. I instead made mimosas out of a ton of oranges. We then went bike riding and then ate at Gina's Cantina, yum!

Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device || I played the 27th game of the Nancy Drew Mystery Adventure games (yes, I've pretty much played them all since I was 11.) This one was sciency and revolved around Tesla. It wasn't my favorite, but I wound up live playing and texiting it with my other Nancy fan friends: Stacie and Maggie. I cannot wait to play the Ghost of Thorton Hall.

Farewell to Tom || My cousin, Tom, recently got a job in Charleston, South Carolina. He's moving down there and I can't wait to visit him some time because, hey it's South Carolina and Tom.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Printing Press

The Rose O'Neil Literary House is where all the literary and cultural happenings go on at Washington College. With a cup of tea in hand you can walk around the house filled to the brim with books and jammed pack with broadsides of all the famous authors who have stopped by the house through the Sophie Kerr program for years. There's a kitchen, a garden, a classroom on the porch where I've had Foundations of Western Lit and Creative Process, and a ceiling painted with authors stringed together in a 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon way. 

Now as wonderful as this house is, I know I do not use it to it's full potential. In fact, the only time I really ever enter the house is for class or for a class project. Well, the King Lear video I filmed had me investigating the greatest resource available to the literary house, the antique printing press. Master printer, Michael Kaylor, was printing out 75 special broadsides for the play and one of my partner's Maisie and I, made our way down into the depths of the workshop to see Mike in action.

We were there to film, we didn't plan on interviewing him, but he wound up explaining his entire process to us. He set up the machine, slapped on the ink and would run the paper through the machine as he cranked the wheel. He'd pull it out and remark that the print was either too inked or too dry. Mike would then take the paper out, measure it, and go back to the machine and adjust. He also insisted on not filming any of the "before" prints that did not qualify for the final 75. The man is a master and his work certainly reflects it.

Soon the prints were cranking out one after the other. Maisie and I enjoyed the experience, seeing and learning the process we had taken the time to watch before. The end result was fantastic, an old illustration of King Lear and the Fool paired with the poem "On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again" by John Keats.

I enjoyed myself so much, I might want to take one of these workshop classes one day. I'm glad I got to  take advantage of a resource I had long forgotten.
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Post

I'd like to introduce you all to my blogger friend (I love that I can say that) Bailey from Becoming Bailey. She's a college girl trying to figure herself out in the world before graduating in December (like moi.) So here she is, Bailey!

Hey everyone! Shannon has asked me to share some travel tips with you lovely readers, specifically in the form of road trips.

You see, I consider myself a semi-professional road tripper, as a good majority of my childhood was spent crammed in the backseat of the family minivan on the way to the beach. One year, my family even traveled from our home in Kentucky to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then to New York City, and on to Washington D.C. before finally heading home. My most recent road trip was to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas with my mother and grandmother over Spring Break.

Throughout the years, I've learned some very valuable lessons. Learn from my mistakes so your trip won't be a disaster.

1. Take your car to the shop before you leave. You do not want to be on the interstate in a rural area with an engine failure. Also, clean your car before you leave, because it will get messy on your trip.

2. Buy a road atlas. Even if you have a GPS or a TripTik from AAA, make sure to have a paper atlas just in case. (You will not believe the number of times Apple Maps got us lost in rural Arkansas!)

3. Pack snacks. Once you're finally on the road, you don't want to stop for a candy bar. Keep them within easy reach of the driver's seat, so you're not rummaging through bags while behind the wheel.

4. Make a "road trip" playlist for when you lose radio signal in the boondocks. It will happen and you do not want to be fiddling with the radio when your hands should be on the steering wheel.

5. Don't drive more than 11 hours in a day. Professional truckers don't drive more than 11 hours in a day, so neither should you. And on this note, it's safer to travel with friends or family-- you can split up the driving. Plus, you'll make some great memories! (That being said, choose your friends wisely. You will be stuck with this person for hundreds of miles.)

6. Relax. This is a fact: it will take longer to get to your destination than planned. Instead of speeding to your destination, take your time and enjoy the sights. Who knows? You may even run into a cool little tourist trap.

One such tourist trap: Margaret's Grocery in Vicksburg, MS.

7. Pick a good co-pilot or as I prefer to call them, navigators. The person in the front passenger seat should know how to read a map, give directions, and assist the driver in switching lanes during heavy traffic. If the person up front does not fit these qualifications, pull over and move them to the back. It sounds mean, but your navigator is the second-in-command of your vehicle. Just like a co-pilot needs to know how to fly the plane, the navigator needs to know how to drive the vehicle and give directions.

8. Bring enough money! Some places only accept cash. Trust me, you'd rather have too much than not enough. Of course, be careful with your money as you do not want to flaunt it all and end up a robbery victim.

9. Take a break. Get out of the car to stretch your legs and eat dinner. Sometimes, it's the only thing that will keep you sane.

10. Always, always, go to the bathroom when you are at a rest stop. Don't have to go? Then follow my advice that I always gave my campers before a long hike in the woods: Go try. You do not want to be hittin' the woods scraggly bush on the side of the interstate.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful summer full of amazing memories. Happy road tripping, friends!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Hello everyone! I survived finals and done with my Junior year of college. Now that I'm back I've been applying to jobs in both Ocean City and Annapolis and crossing my fingers to hear back from anywhere. 

I won't be starting work until June 1st when I get back from my two and a half week vacation. I'm spending half a week in New Mexico for Geralyn and Lisa Marie's wedding and then flying over to Texas to travel around with Gerred. 

I'll be absent from the blog for awhile, but only because I'm having a great time and seeing and doing all that I can.

EDIT: I'll be working at the Irish Channel as soon as I get back.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Vegetable Soup

I don't hate vegetables, but I have a hard time wanting to snack on carrots or broccoli. Lately, I've decided to remedy this lack of easy vegetable access with vegetable soup. In the beginning I just would wing it. Pour in broth and vegetable juice and throw in vegetables continuously  While I wouldn't say I've stopped doing that, I do have a recipe from these experiments to share.

Ingredients (with wing-it measurements)
2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup vegetable juice
1 can tomato paste
1 can green beans
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 a chopped zucchini
a handful or so of kale
1/4 sliced onion
 sliced red, green, and yellow peppers
1/2 cup mushrooms

1. Pour in broth and juice and heat it all up it up in a pot.
2. Add in your tomato paste and stir.
3. Continuously throw in vegetables and stir and stir until things are looking cooked.
4. Taste it and add some old bay.

And there you have it a very simple vegetable soup that can be adapted to whatever vegetables you desire, but don't feel like snacking on raw. If you enjoy snacking on raw onions though, I'd really like to know about that.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

I really enjoyed our spontaneous trip to Ocean City this weekend. I know it was a lot of stress with me looking for jobs and crack house apartment rentals for 10 people, but I had a great time being by your side. My favorite part was when we woke up and walked out to the beach right before the rain hit. I love you so much and I am glad we got to spend time together.

So happy mother's day to my mom and all the other moms out there like my grandma, aunts and my soon to be mother-in-law. Hope all the mom's out there have a great day and are showered with love from their sons, daughters, and grandchildren.
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Annapolis with Sam

A few weeks ago Sam of A Diary of Travel and I headed over to Annapolis. I played tour guide around the city I'm well versed in and pointed out sights, shops, and any historical banter I knew about. We passed such landmarks as the Governor's House, the State House, Ego Alley, and the Alex Haley Statue. Along the way we snacked on Sofie's Crepes (which truthfully I had never eaten before,) stopped for some of my favorite strawberry oreo ice cream at Annapolis Ice Cream Company, and ended the night with a sampling of seafood with my whole family at Boatyard Bar & Grill. 

I had the Florentine Crepe which was rich and delicious. Next time I'm here I'll have to get a nutella crepe.

I always love coming to Annapolis with people who have never seen the city before. I get a fresh perspective and have a lot of fun re-exploring this city. Are there any places you know front to back?
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