Happy 4th of July!

Happy July 4th everyone!

Before we start the celebrations, here’s a quick update on some of the things we’ve been up to these last few weeks. We’ve just returned from a trip to Turku, Finland! I was there for a conference, while Lauren had a presentation with some of her collaborators over there. We also managed to fit some sightseeing into our busy schedules. It’s easy to get a lot done in a day when it never gets dark!

We explored Turku’s rich history, visiting both the Turku Castle and the Cathedral of Turku. On our last night we explored a little bit of the nightlife, visiting the floating bars on the Aura River and enjoying some seriously good seafood.

We are off to enjoy the holiday now visiting friends and grilling!


Turku Castle


Turku Cathedral over the Aura River


Floating bars in the Aura River


Updates and Our Honeymoon

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since Lauren and I last posted. So much has happened since then! We’ve gone on our honeymoon, Lauren’s accepted a practicum position at a children’s hospital in Wilmington for next year, and I’ve been to my first conference in Houston! Of course, the honeymoon was by far the most memorable of all of these things.

Lauren and I had such an amazing time in Costa Rica! We were there for about a week, and had plenty of time to ourselves for relaxing and exploring the area. We saw wildlife (monkeys!), went surfing for the first time together, and even ate some terrific food. Surprisingly, we had some of the best Italian food ever down there. It was truly the perfect trip for us!

ATV on the beach

I especially enjoyed a spear fishing day trip that we took towards the end of the trip. Dinner!Our guide took us out near this tiny island and showed us all the best fish to catch. We had such a blast! After spear fishing, we tried our hand at regular fishing out in the ocean. That was less successful, though we still had a great time. We even got to take some of the meat back with us to the hotel, where we dined on it for the last few days. I don’t think I’ve ever had fresher fish!

Lauren really loved the Costa Rican outdoors. We enjoyed bird watching, hikes through a reserve, and horseback riding on the beach. It was such an amazing trip! We hope we’ll get to go back to Costa Rica some day, but at least we have some awesome memories to hold onto until then. We can’t wait!

Pura vida!

Happy Holidays!

Hi everyone! It has been far too long since Dallas and I posted. I can’t believe we’ve been engaged for almost three months already! We’ve been very busy with wedding planning and graduate school. Highlights from the past few months include planning our October wedding in Chicago (check out the new wedding part of our site!), Dallas publishing his first research article in a peer-reviewed journal, and spending time with our families over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, we’re together in Santa Barbara celebrating the new year. We can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

Happy holidays!

Santa Barbara, CA

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!