Happy Birthday Dallas!

Dallas turns the big 2-4 today. Happy birthday to him! Here’s what we’re doing to celebrate his birthday (er…birth-weekend).

  • Surprise (!) breakfast today
  • Some sort of delicious dinner on Friday
  • Visiting family in Baltimore on Saturday
  • Beer tasting!

Most exciting is BEER TASTING! About a month ago, I bought Dallas a home brew kit as an early birthday present. It was quite the process, but we now have about a gallon of IPA fermented and carbonating (hopefully?) under the kitchen sink! We can’t wait to test it out. We’re hoping that 1) it’s drinkable and 2) it’s alcoholic, but we’d probably settle for one or the other. Here’s hoping!


We don’t always eat beef

…but when we do, we prefer Beef Wellington. Specifically, we’re crazy about the recipe we With a heart!received from John and Molly Fitzpatrick during our visit to Ithaca. This was our first attempt at the tasty dish, and let me just say, happy Valentine’s Day to us. We paired it with Cabernet Sauvignon. So. Delicious.

To be honest, we’re not really the Valentine’s Day types. We like to be pretty low key about it since we figure that if we wait until today to remind each other that we care, our relationship is going to be in trouble roughly 364 days out of the year. Still, I don’t mind using it as an excuse for more expensive food than usual, great wine, and way too much candy (Thanks for the chocolates, Mom and Dad!). Lauren seems to be on board with this plan, too, judging by the goofy smile on her face and her food coma position on the couch post-dinner.

The rest of our night will be devoted to catching up with How I Met Your Mother episodes, and, I suppose, some extra romantic reminders for Lauren that she is one for me. I think she’s pretty awesome, and luckily for me, I think she likes me, too. I guess I can get into the Valentine’s Day spirit after all!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Birds, Trails, and Wine in the Finger Lakes Region

Over Labor Day Weekend, Dallas and I got to head up to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York to visit John and Molly Fitzpatrick and to spend some time exploring. It was an excellent way to celebrate Dallas passing his qualifying exams (Yay Dallas!) and to relax one last time before the crazy second year in my program begins. We expected to have a lot of fun, but it was even better than anticipated. Our weekend of fun included a 100+ year old hummingbird, a beautiful hike, a cooky musical, and tons of tasty wine. Here are some pictures and highlights from the weekend:

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Our weekend started out with a visit to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Dallas’s godfather John happens to be the director of this awesome place, so we got a behind-the-scenes tour. He showed us maps that track the migration patterns of birds using data collected from a cell phone app. Birders note when and where they see certain birds on their cell phones, and then the Lab collects the data and produces maps of their migration patterns. Our nerdy researcher selves were super pumped to see that. Even cooler, though, was the specimen room where they keep birds from all over the world. I held a hummingbird that was collected in 1888 in South America by the wildlife painter, Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Crazy! This tour was a complete surprise and a high point of the trip!

Next, we went on a hike in Robert H. Treman State Park. It was a beautiful trail with several waterfalls, as you can see in our pictures. After, we took a dip in the massive swimming area (in our hiking clothes, naturally) and stood under the nearby waterfall. We finished up our trip to the state park with some popsicles from the ice cream truck. That’s definitely the right way to end a hike.

That evening, we went with John, Molly, and Molly’s mother Sally to a showing of Rocky Horror Show at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca. I can’t say either of us understood the plot, but it was definitely an experience. It really gives new meaning to the words “audience participation.”

On Sunday morning, we had quite the market adventure. We checked out the farmers’ market in Ithaca first. As you can see from the pictures above, it had a beautiful setup with numerous vendors, including a super delicious crepe place, which we naturally took advantage of. We also headed to Wegmans to pick up some food for the evening. If you have never been to a Wegmans, you are seriously missing out. This place is HUGE. It combines the delicious prepared food section of Whole Foods with a regular grocery store, plus a giant kitchenware section. You could get lost in there for days. The candy section (shown in the slideshow) has its own toy train! I don’t think we’ve ever been so excited about a grocery store.

We finally headed up to the wineries in the late afternoon. The Finger Lakes region is actually the largest wine-producing region east of California in the United States. The map below shows the large number of wineries (the red dots) in the area. We definitely didn’t make it to all of them, but we did stop by three wineries and a distillery on the Seneca Trail. Our favorite was Lamoreaux Landing. We’re certainly not wine experts, but it was fun to try and taste the differences in the various wines. I think I can finally tell the difference between a sweet and dry wine, which is quite the accomplishment for me and my unrefined palate! We also enjoyed trying a bunch of different varieties of Riesling, which is my favorite kind of wine and one the region is known for. In total, we tried 18 different wines and six different liquors, and left with three bottles of wine and a bottle of raspberry liqueur. And a buzz.

So many tasty wines!

We spent that night with a bottle of Riesling and a deck of cards, camped out in Finger Lakes National Forest under a (thankfully waterproof) tent. We also conclusively decided that wine does taste better when drunk out of camping bowls.

Despite the rainy night, morning, and drive home, we made it back in one piece. It was really fun to see John, Molly, and Sally and visit Ithaca and the Finger Lakes. Future home perhaps? It was pretty cool. Hopefully, we’ll at least make it back for more visits while on the east coast!