7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter

Despite some wacky winter weather, Cody and I visited Paige this past weekend in her new apartment in Salem, Massachusetts. We were greeted by 2 feet of fresh snow and single-digit temperatures, but that didn’t stop from us seeing the sites. The 3 of us bundled up (we’re talking long underwear and scarves up to our eyes) to explore the best parts of Salem.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter

For anyone else crazy enough to visit this coastal city in the dead of winter, we highly recommend these 7 stops:

1. Fish Tacos at Howling Wolf

After a very long drive on Friday, we headed straight for tacos at Howling Wolf Taqueria. The place was packed and we waited a little bit for a table. Once we were seated our server was great and I don’t think I’ve ever had tacos delivered from the kitchen as fast as these were.

2. Snow Covered Graves

Salem is synonymous with witches, and no matter your belief on the subject, you can’t deny the history of this town. The Burying Point, the oldest burying ground in the city, looked extra picturesque covered in a thick blanket of snow.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | The Burying Point

3. Oak + Moss’ Sunny Shop

I found Oak + Moss on Instagram while researching things to do in Salem. Their shop lived up my expectations, with gorgeous natural pieces and nautical accents. I wanted so badly to buy a lot more than I did.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | Oak + Moss

4. Fresh Bread at A&J King

After battling the cold and wind on Saturday morning, we were ready for lunch and a warm drink. The salad sandwich, chai tea latte and hammered copper tables at A&J King Artisan Bakers were just what we needed. The shop was busy, filled with people looking to get out of the house after days of snow and cold.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | A&J King

5. Frozen Harbor Views

Sure, the is harbor probably more enjoyable when it’s not frozen solid. But there’s something pretty cool about both waves and boats freezing into place.

6. Craft Beer at Gulu Gulu Cafe

We finished off Saturday with a few drinks at Gulu Gulu Cafe, which was a further walk than other Salem bars from Paige’s apartment. The huge selection of draught beers and live music made the walk completely worth it. Plus, it meant that we saw the trees that lined the streets downtown lit up at night.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | Gulu Gulu Cafe

7. Streets Filled Christmas Decor

Even though Christmas was a few weeks ago, both businesses and the beautiful old homes of Salem are still decked out in their holiday best. The lights, bows, wreaths throughout the town are dusted with snow, giving them an extra festive look.

Things_to_do_in_Salem_MA_Winter_3

Pre-Holiday Pizza at Hearth + Press

Making new friends is not my strong suit. Even as a kid, I’d wait for someone else to invite me over to play at their house instead of asking them. I never took the Myers-Briggs test because I know exactly what it’s going to say. I’m happy to spend Friday nights in and am perfectly content to explore new places solo.

This particular trait makes networking, both personally and professionally, one of the more exhausting tasks I’ve attempted since moving home. Because of this, I’m grateful for extroverts who take it upon themselves to follow up after I’ve awkwardly inserted myself into a group at an event.

Thanks to the initiative of other, braver, individuals, I recently found myself at dinner after work during the week before Christmas with a few fellow bloggers. We checked out Hearth + Press on Main Street downtown. Getting to know each other over thin crust pizza and drinks were just what we all needed to combat the stress of the holidays.

Hearth + Press | Buffalo, NY Pizza

Hearth + Press | Buffalo, NY Pizza

And if you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, we all recommend Hearth + Press. It’s a tad pricey (for us 20-somethings, at any rate), but the stone hearth pizza was fresh and crispy!

The Prettiest Packages under the Tree

This weekend is the last chance to put the finishing touches on Christmas, which is just around the corner! Today Cody and I baked cookies, I shopped for stocking stuffers with my dad and continuous snow all but guaranteed a white Christmas.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Last night I finished wrapping my gifts, which didn’t take long at all thanks to the number of family and friends who decided not to exchange gifts this year. Instead, we’ll be attending events together, and saving for vacation and long weekend trips later this year.

I wouldn’t want to skip gifts altogether though, because choosing my wrapping paper, ribbon and gift toppers is my favorite part of Christmas. This year I wanted something simple and not too Christmasy. My first choice was matte black paper, but I couldn’t find any in a local store. If anyone knows of a specialty store in Buffalo (or an online shop with free shipping) let me know!

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Instead, I went with two-toned silver paper in both stripes and a floral pattern. It’s a Hallmark paper that I found in the bridal section of Walmart. I paired it with a bright blue in 2 widths to keep things wintery. Each package got a white tag and a wooden ornament to finish things off.

Make Your Own Wooden Ornaments

The wooden ornaments not only add a natural element to these packages, they make a nice homemade stocking stuffer as well!

To make your own, start with a decent sized branch. I chose pine to keep things Christmasy, but birch would be really pretty as well! Dad helped me slice them about 1/2 inch thick with the table saw and I sanded them down to make them smooth enough to write on. Some of the bark was loose, so I snuck hot glue under it to keep everything together.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

At this point you can either paint or leave the wood natural, which is what I chose to do.

I found really cute Christmas lettering on Pinterest (they’re all saved on my Christmas Crafting board) to use on the ornaments. Just print them the approximate size of the wood slices and use chalk to transfer the design. To do this, color the side of the paper without the lettering with a thick layer of chalk. Trace the lettering using a ballpoint pen with the paper’s chalk side towards the wood and then go over the chalk lines with a Sharpie.

Once I found a few designs I liked and that weren’t too hard to transfer I stuck with those for all the ornaments. There were more than a few flat-out ugly ornaments that didn’t make it past this step.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

I added a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic and drilled a small hole to thread a ribbon through. Overall, I’m pretty excited about how these turned out and they didn’t take too long, besides the sanding. If I were to do these again, I’d dry out the slices before sanding them by putting them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200°.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Are you all ready for the holiday? There were lots of last minute shoppers out today, so I’m guessing some of you will be wrapping tonight and tomorrow!

It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I’m not one to rush Christmas shopping, decor or celebrating.

But now, the second weekend in December, it really is starting to look and feel a lot like Christmas. Last night, I got to see In a DC Minute‘s beautiful Fox Cross Farm decorated in Christmas glory. Afterwards, I joined Shannon and Morgan for a night of baking cookies and Christmas movies.

Looks_Like_Christmas_Decor_1

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

Today, the Bills are on TV, playing in an actual snowstorm while flurries go past our kitchen window. My cinnamon tea is hot and dinner is in the Crock-Pot. (If this post didn’t sound just like my mom in the first few paragraphs, it now sounds as if she’s writing my blogs.)

With the general cheer of this weekend, I wanted to share how Cody and I are getting our little home ready for our first Christmas here. Last Saturday, we found a beautiful tree at Jurek Plantations. We both brought our favorite ornaments from home before finding a few store-bought additions.

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

Looks_Like_Christmas_Decor_4

Looks_Like_Christmas_Decor_5

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

In other spaces, we switched out throw pillows and added twinkling lights, pine boughs, a framed thank you card Paige made a few years ago, Willow Tree angels and a few handmade decorations from Filomena’s Favorites in Medina. I’ll definitely be shopping some post-holiday sales to pick up a few more items to decorate with next year!

Looks_Like_Christmas_Decor_6

Looks_Like_Christmas_Decor_7

Looks_Like_Christmas_Decor_8

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

The Perfect Farmhouse Table for Your Tiny Apartment Kitchen

When Cody and I moved into our apartment, we realized the 5 person dining table from his great grandpa wasn’t going to fit in our eat-in kitchen. And neither was anything we could buy for a reasonable price. So we made our own, without too many missteps.

Keep scrolling for our entire shopping and cut lists!

This project took us the better part of 3 weeks, but it could easily be finished in a weekend if you don’t have as many distractions as we did. I wasn’t planning on posting about this project, so I don’t have step-by-step photos – but it turned out too good not to share! I love how simple it is, which makes it easy to decorate no matter the season.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

As always, measure twice and cut once! We found that after cutting our five short pieces for the table top, the width was slightly more than what we estimated; it all depends on the cut of the boards. After cutting and sanding everything individually, we assembled the legs, aprons and support bar. The apron is set in a quarter inch from the outside of the legs. We measured at both the top and the bottom of the apron, then put on wood glue before attaching the pieces with screws.

Farmhouse_Kitchen_Table_Small_Apartment_Plans_1

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

Farmhouse_Kitchen_Table_Small_Apartment_Plans_7

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

For the top, we assembled everything on the ground before attaching that to the base. Once everything was together, we sanded the top again to knock down some of the less than perfect seams. We could have planed either the pieces individually or the table top as a whole, but that would have slowed us down even more, so we chose to love the imperfections on the top.

If you have the space, it would be easier to stain and paint before attaching the two pieces, but we did not do this. Painter’s tape worked just fine to keep the stain and paint separate.

We chose a dark wood stain for the table top, to make up for the fact that we used pine (which was wayyy less expensive than hardwood) and painted the legs a creamy white.

To get the finished look, we used just 1 coat of Minwax’s Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in Espresso 273 and 3 coats of Mixwax’s water based Polycrylic protective finish. The only downside is that this finish is not super heat-resistant. For the legs, I used this tutorial on color washing with Behr’s Heavy Cream. It’s very easy and takes almost no paint, which is nice.

Farmhouse_Kitchen_Table_Small_Apartment_Plans_4

Farmhouse_Kitchen_Table_Small_Apartment_Plans_8

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

Eventually, I’d like to find chairs that are a little more farmhouse style, but we’re using the chairs from Cody’s grandpa’s table and they work just fine!

Shopping List

2 4″x4″x8′ fir boards
2 1″x8″x8′ pine boards
2 1″x4″x6′ pine boards
8 oz Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
8 oz Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
8 oz Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Matte
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig Kit
Kreg 100 Count 1-1/4 inch Screws
4 oz Elmer’s Carpenter Wood Glue
Paintbrush
Fine Sandpaper (for between coats of Polycrylic)

Materials We Already Had

5″ Orbital Sander
5″ Orbital Sandpaper (a medium grit works fine)

Cut List

For the Top

5 21.75″ from the 1x8s (Four of these will come from 1 board and 1 from the 2nd board)
2 36.25″ from the 1x8s (This may change slightly, depending on the exact width of your 1x8s.)

For the Aprons and Support

4 26.25″ from the 1x6s
1 31.25 from the 1x6s

For the Legs

4 identical cuts from the 4x4s (The height will depend on what chairs you’re using; it really doesn’t matter as long as they’re all the same!)

Allegany Photo Diary – Fall 2017

If you hadn’t already guessed from this post or this post, we spend a lot of time in Allegany State Park every year. It’s 65,000 acres of woods, lakes, camp grounds, history and bike paths. You could go every weekend and not come close to seeing everything.

This year, we visited a few sights that hadn’t been on our itinerary in past years: the Summit Hill Fire Tower, Old Quaker Store Museum and Quaker Lake. The Summit Hill Fire Tower is a short hike from the road, and if you go on a day that a volunteer is manning the tower, you can climb to the top, although the trees almost completely cover the view of the surrounding peaks. The Old Quaker Store Museum was a very interesting history of human influence on the park and I really enjoyed learning about how groups from Buffalo used it in the ’20s and ’30s.

Of course, old standbys were part of our trips too; we climbed Thunder Rocks and made our way to Stone Tower.

Check out some of my favorite shots from our two trips to Allegany this year:

Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
No better way to start the day than a cup of coffee around the fire.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
The Summit Hill Fire Tower in Red House is rickety but fun to climb if you don’t mind heights.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
Beautiful fall views from the Stone Tower.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
Checking out the site of a tornado that touched down in 1990; most vegetation has grown back by now.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
Climbing Thunder Rocks never gets old.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
The Ad Building decked out for fall.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
Sitting around the campfire with sparklers is a great way to spend the night.
Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
Cody’s cousins being very patient while I play with camera settings!

Allegany State Park | New York State Parks | Photo Diary
Cody’s grandparents driving through the park on Sunday morning.

 

34 Buffalo-Made Gifts for Your Christmas List

Alpine Made
Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap – $8.94
Pretty and practical, pair this Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap with a soap dish or other cute bathroom accessories for grandma or aunts.

Aléthea’s Chocolates
Sponge Candy – $21.95
Choose light, dark or a mix of both. Does this need any more explanation?

Locally Made Baked Goods
Try Schwab’s, Becker Farms, Butter Block, Breadhive, Ohlson’s Bakery, or my personal favorite, The Bread Basket. Cookies, pies and cupcakes are always welcome at the holiday table!

Banky Girl Creations
Team Pizza and Wings Tee – $25.95
What Buffalo girl isn’t a fan of pizza and wings?

Blue Table Chocolates
4 Month, 12 Piece Subscription – $60
Every month, Blue Table Chocolates will send “a variety of flavors, including [the] special flavor of the month” to the chocolate-lovers on your list. Who won’t love this gift?!

Born in Buffalo
BFLO Beer Taps – $21.99
No Buffalo beer lover’s wardrobe is complete without one of these BFLO Beer Tap t-shirts.

Buffalo Beer Mug Co.
Growler Cleveland – $7.50
While you may not know too many history lovers who are also beer fanatics (or beer lovers who are also history fanatics), this is the gift for them.

Buffalo Canvas
Canvases and Custom Framing
Create an ultra-personalized gift with a oversize canvas or custom framed print. The folks at Buffalo Canvas can turn your images into pretty much anything you can imagine!

Buffalo Made Co.
Buffalo Made Flag Print – $10.00 to $24.00
This simple artwork is perfect for Buffalovers and it looks great with or without a frame!

Buffalo Outdoors
Button-Up Long Sleeve Textured Henley Shirt – $12.99
This classic Henley comes in 7 colors, perfect for the practical guys on your list.

Buffalovely
Trump Can Eff the Eff Off Mug – $14
For your friends who are having a hard time adjusting to the current administration.

C Designs
Home Sweet Home Card – $4.50
Frame literally any of C Designs’ cards for a cute collection of accents perfect for a kitchen or bathroom!

Christopher Hyzy
B is for Buffalo – $29.95 (hardcover)
Christopher Hyzy’s book of gorgeous aerial photography was available last Christmas, but if it’s not on the coffee table already, it should be.

Fern Croft
Small Arrangement – $55
Not every gift needs to last forever. Make your Christmas host’s day with a fresh flower arrangement that arrives just before guests.

In The Buff 716
Christmas Ornaments – $11.99
If your wrapping paper and ribbon is just as important to you as what’s inside, consider topping packages with these metal Buffalo ornaments.

Indie Twenty
Onyx Triangle Necklace – $23.00
This necklace is perfect for jazzing up basics throughout the rest of the winter, and everyone from coworkers to nieces will appreciate it.

Inspired Buffalo
Blue Whale Pillow by Michael Clarke – $29 to $43
This throw pillow is the perfect accent for a beachy living room or nautical lake house.

Jess C Jewelry
BUFFAL❄VE Necklace
You can find this necklace (and tons of other adorable Buffalo jewelry) at local shops, or contact jesscjewelry@gmail.com.

Keng Creations
Beam Candle Holder – $40
Add this candle holder to a mantle or centerpiece for a natural accent that isn’t too rustic.

Kitch Studios
Christmas Tea Towel – $11
Pair a cute tea towel with gourmet cookies, a bottle of wine or homemade jelly and you have an easy, affordable gift.

LaCott Fine Art
Elephant Print
Laura’s alcohol ink elephants are gorgeous and will make any animal lover smile. Find her at various maker fairs and festivals this season to pick out the perfect one.

Niagara County Produce
Hot Pepper Relish
Pair this unique condiment with a tea towel for the perfect office gift.

Nickel City String Art
Cactus String Art – $20
Do you have a friend who likes plants but can’t keep them alive? This is for them.

Oxford Pennant
Get Lost Pennant – $25
This wanderlust-inspiring pennant is at the top of my Christmas list. Literally any of Oxford Pennant’s wares make great gifts.

Papercraft Miracles
Blueberry Muffin Stationary Set – $5.00
Stuff stockings with this adorable stationary set or get a few for an easy Secret Santa gift.

Pencil Sketch Paper
Buffalo Stampede Wrapping Paper – $15
Wrap your gifts in this, and frame the extras for other Buffalo fans.

Pretty + Grit
Balance Double Ring – $45
This double ring from brand-new Pretty + Grit is simple, but not too simple.

Rise Collaborative
“You Belong” Sweatshirt – $34 to $48
When you buy this super cute sweatshirt (which also shares a really powerful message), you can choose to donate either a hat or a sweatshirt to Buffalo’s growing refugee population. These sweatshirts are preorder only, so head over to Rise’s website by 11/29.

Rosie Furniture & Lighting
Rosie Idea Box
Find the folks from Rosie at Yuletide in the Country on December 2nd and 3rd to shop their entire collection.

Sadler Garden Collections
Planter with Cameo Cutout – $35.99
These planters are an upgrade from the typical hanging basket that gardeners will put to good use come spring.

Silo City Art
Autumn On The Lake: Original Watercolor Painting by Jill Carere – $65.00
Add to an art aficionado’s collection without breaking the bank.

Three Stories Coffee
Burundi Single Origin 12 oz – $14
This new coffee roaster has tons of options to choose from, with every variety available in light or dark roast as well as whole bean or ground.

Wild Skin Cares
The Basic Box (includes Day Oil, Hydrating Cleanser and Facial Toner) – $61.20
Spoil your mom or your girlfriends with this luxurious skin care kit. All you have to do is pick the skin type of your recipient and Wild Skin Cares does the rest.

Wood by Bri
Buffalo Business Card Holder – $18
Know a recent college grad who loves Buffalo? Order them this cool wood business card holder.