A Saturday Morning Coffee Date in Five Points

My favorite thing about the Buffalo Blogging Network is not meetups or opportunities for brand partnerships, although those are pretty great. My favorite part of the Network is meeting Buffalo bloggers who love exploring just as much as I do.

This is how I met Hailey. We’ve been trying to plan brunch for months and we finally met this weekend for coffee at Remedy House. Remedy opened last fall in a beautifully renovated building nestled into the intersection of Rhode Island, West Utica and Brayton Streets, better known as Five Points. This space is everything a blogger could ever want: latte art, marble tabletops, natural light, tiled floors, a bright green espresso machine, plants as wall art and hand-lettered signs.

Coffee Date at Five Point's Remedy House in Buffalo

We sat and talked about our new years’ resolutions, how much we love grocery shopping, Ithaca’s waterfalls, and the good and bad of living in the suburbs.

Five Points and the surrounding blocks are filled with amazing small businesses that are helping revitalize the West Side. After a pour over of Onyx Coffee Lab’s Peru Maria Rojas and an oat milk latte, we were ready for a little food. Lucky for us, this neighborhood is home to lots of options, including Remedy House itself.

We crossed the street to Five Points Bakery for toast. This beautiful building was painstakingly restored down to the gorgeous brick and thick wooden beams. Greenery growing both inside and out pairs perfectly with warm slices of cinnamon raisin toast with peanut butter and sliced apple.

Five Points Bakery in Buffalo's West Side

Five Points Bakery in Buffalo's West Side

Five Points Bakery in Buffalo's West Side

It wasn’t a grand adventure, but this Saturday morning coffee date with a creative soul was just what I needed after a week of snow in April. The next time I adventure to Five Points, I’ll also be stopping at Urban Roots, Paradise Wine, Pilates Art Studio or Evolution Yoga!

The Cutest Eateries on Anna Maria Island

Last week, I traveled to beautiful Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast for a long weekend of lazy days on the beach. Along with a few friends, I laid on the beach, bodysurfed in the waves, drank mimosas with breakfast every morning and ate a LOT of food.

We made good use of our rental home’s kitchen, but it’s not vacation without a few meals out. We didn’t have a chance to try everywhere we wanted to. Our bigger group kept us from trying smaller restaurants, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the food we did try, we had a few favorites!

For After Dinner Drinks: The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Local beers on draft, tropical mixed drinks and frozen cocktails kept everyone happy at The Ugly Grouper. The bar gets its cool vibe from the completely open-air setting and a giant mixed media grouper statue. We had fun playing the Bimini ring game, cornhole and giant Jenga.

The Ugly Grouper has a full menu and tons of live music, but we didn’t have the chance to experience either.

For Ice Cream: Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

In typical Florida fashion, we spent one afternoon waiting for pouring rain to pass. We bundled up and headed for Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery. The gelato was amazing and so was the decor. I had a scoop of cookies and cream and a scoop of Irish cream in a waffle cone, which I highly recommend. Their coffee was delicious as well!

For Tacos and Margs: Wicked Cantina

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Wicked Cantina

No warm-weather vacation is complete without tacos and fresh margaritas. Lucky for us, Wicked Cantina‘s tacos are amazing and the margaritas come in goblet-sized glasses. The chips and salsa were truly bottomless, and both the salsa and queso were a satisfying amount of spicy.

For Fresh-Caught Grouper: Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

While not technically on the island, this seafood shack is definitely worth mentioning. After a foggy morning on the boat, we headed toward Star Fish Company‘s dock as the sun began to shine. This market/restaurant combination is located on one of the last working fishing docks in Florida. The fish is fresh, the fries are crispy and everyone there is as happy to be there as I was.

Perry’s Celebrates 100 Years with Retro Flavors and the Cutest Cartons

As I’ve mentioned before, I really love ice cream. This week, after a quick trip to Florida and springtime sunshine streaming through the windows back in Buffalo, I’m so ready to dig into a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

It just so happens that this week Perry’s, one of my favorite Buffalo ice cream brands, released 4 classic flavors to celebrate their anniversary. It’s not just any anniversary – Perry’s is celebrating 100 years as a family-owned ice cream company. The flavors are packaged in the cutest vintage ice cream parlor style cartons that really stand out on the shelf!

These retro flavors are limited-edition releases of past favorites from the 1950s to the 1990s. I know you’re wondering what they taste like, but don’t worry. Cody and I sacrificed an evening this week to let you know if any of these flavors are worth giving up your usual Panda Paws or Bittersweet Sinphony.

Parkerhouse, circa 1950s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Parkerhouse circa 1950s

If you grew up in Buffalo, you know the thrill of stopping for Perry’s at a roadside stand. The classic sign pointing you towards one of these stands is actually a cone filled with the Parkerhouse flavor!

This ice cream has a classic amaretto base with maraschino cherries. Considering I don’t like either of these flavors, Parkerhouse was actually pretty good.

Heavenly Hash, circa 1970s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Heavenly Hash circa 1970s

Chocolate ice cream and marshmallow swirls with Swiss chips and roasted almonds. What more could you possibly need in life? I may or may not be almost done with this carton already… It’s definitely my favorite of the retro collection.

Butterscotch Sundae, circa 1980s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Butterscotch Sundae circa 1980s

So. Much. Butterscotch. Not only is the base ice cream a rich butterscotch, there are salty butterscotch swirls throughout with peanuts for a nice crunch. A small scoop was so good, but this ice cream is way too rich for any more than that!

Malt Shoppe, circa 1990s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Malt Shoppe circa 1990s

If there was an ice cream Cody and I remembered from its original release, it would have been Malt Shoppee. The flavor didn’t ring any bells, but that didn’t stop us from loving it! This one is disappearing from our freezer as quickly as the Heavenly Hash.

For more information about these sweet flavors or if you want to try them for yourself, check out Perry’s website dedicated to their anniversary.

I received each of these retro flavors for free in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.

4 Accessories You Need for Your Next Beach Day

There is something so satisfying about escaping to warmer weather when it’s still below freezing in Buffalo. This week, we packed our bags and traveled to Anna Maria Island, Florida where we were greeted by sun and sand.

While I packed plenty of sundresses and even jeans for chilly nights, the most important beach accessories didn’t take up much room in my luggage. Last summer, I shared 9 beach day must haves. I still stand by those favorites 100%; I’m adding a few more from this week’s trip to the Gulf Coast.

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | A New Day Sunglasses | Floppy Sun Hat

1. A Hat

A hat is an essential beach day accessory that keeps your scalp from burning and shields your eyes from the sun. The weather and our plans for the day dictated what hat I wore. I love this floppy sun hat with a pretty bow for lounging on the sand on clear, calm days. For a morning out on the boat or windy weather, my favorite UT baseball hat was a better fit.

2. A New Day Clubmaster Sunglasses

A New Day is a recently launched Target-exclusive brand with lots of cute accessories. These were a complete impulse buy just days before we left for Anna Maria Island. I love that they’re a classic shape with just enough details that they’re not boring. They also fit my smaller face really well.

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | Pura Vida Bracelets Silver Wave Ring

3. Pura Vida Bracelets Silver Wave Ring

This dainty accessory adds just a touch of nautical sparkle to my beach day ensemble. The ring was a Christmas gift from Shannon, along with an Anna Maria Island sticker and coozie. This gift had me daydreaming of the beach for the past 3 months!

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | Cool Gear Tumbler

4. Cool Gear Tumbler

Keeping drinks cold is a very real beach day struggle. I love this tumbler because it has a wide mouth for ice cubes. The double walls keep it from sweating, so sand is way less likely to stick and end up in my bag or the cooler.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites

I’m constantly looking for snacks I can make Sunday to play double duty for me during the week. Some days, I need something quick before I go to the gym in the morning. Others, I eat breakfast at home but then need a snack at work.

A handful of almonds and craisins are an easy solution, but I like to add a little variety every few weeks. Last month, I made Oh She Glow’s Oil-Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (which last two weeks if I freeze half the batch). This week, I was searching Pinterest for something similar.

Oatmeal-based energy bites caught my eye. All had similar base ingredients: oatmeal, nut butter and honey. Most also included protein powder, soaked dates and chocolate chips, which seemed a little too complicated for Sunday night meal prep.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Directions

Instead, I mixed up these cinnamon raisin oatmeal bites, and they’re pretty good! I posted a picture on my Instagram story and asked if you’d be interested in seeing a recipe. The majority of you said yes, so here it is!

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites

These are super quick to make. I ended up mixing them together on Monday morning before work. The recipe makes about 15 bites. That was perfect for me, because I had 3 for each day. And yes, there are really 6 ingredients, but I don’t think the cinnamon counts!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 oz box raisins

Directions

  1. Add the oats, flaxseed, honey, peanut butter and cinnamon to a food processor and mix. The ingredients will come together into a texture similar to a pie crust.
  2. After everything is mixed, add the raisins and process for just a few more seconds.
  3. Take the rough dough and shape into 15 bite-sized balls. Place the bites onto a cookie sheet.
  4. Cover the bites on the cookie sheet with a dish towel and stick them in the fridge for a few hours. After they set, you can transfer them to a container and keep them in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Texture

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Directions

A serving of three bites has about 11 grams of sugar, which seems high until you consider that about 1 gram is from the peanuts in peanut butter, 4 are from the natural sugar in grapes and the remaining 6 are from the honey. If you’re worried about the amount of sugar, decrease the amount of honey and add a touch more peanut butter!

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites | Honey

You can easily add in protein powder, chocolate chips or other dried fruit to make these to your taste. Cody has already said he’s going to make them without honey and see how it goes.

Do you have a snack that’s both breakfast and desk appropriate that you love? Let me know on Facebook or in the comments below!

5 Reasons I Can’t Wait for Warmer Weather

Shoveling inches of heavy snow after this week’s late-winter storm, just days after the weather seemed to be turning towards spring for good, has me dreaming of warmer weather. Spring and summer in Buffalo make winter bearable. I can’t wait until we’re eating on patios, grilling and planting flowers.

There’s so much to look forward to as the weather gets warmer, including these 5 things I’m most excited for:

  • Choosing lawn furniture. Cody and I moved into our apartment just as the weather was cooling off last October. This spring and summer, we’re excited to create a little oasis in our backyard, which was one of the reasons we chose the apartment we did. Lawn furniture, Cody’s new grill and a colorful collection of planters are very much on my mind.
  • Riding outside. Barn time is my favorite stress reliever all year round, but it’s definitely more relaxing when you can feel your toes.
  • Open toe shoes. Sometime in August, I start craving booties, but by March I’m so ready for strappy sandals and boat shoes. I’m also a big fan of going entire days without wearing any shoes, which definitely isn’t an option with 6 inches of snow on the ground.
  • Weekly trips to Lake Effect. Because our closest Lake Effect Ice Cream location is now Hertel Ave. instead of Lockport, we don’t have wintertime access to our favorite flavors. Fingers crossed this comes sooner rather than later!
  • Road trips. We don’t have any specific vacation plans for the summer, but I’m guessing warmer weather will hold weekend trips to the Finger Lakes, Allegany and Salem.

What I’m Reading Right Now

I love a good book and my family knows it, so the months following Christmas are always filled with a very long reading list, which I’m sharing here. I’m slowly working my way through a few books right now; next month we’re headed to Florida, where hopefully I’ll fly through a few books while laying on the beach.

The Amateur Emigrant by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is the only book on the list that I bought for myself. I found it in West Side Stories for a few dollars and haven’t had a chance to start it yet. This is a short (and lightweight) one that I’ll be sticking in my bag when we go on vacation.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I’m about a quarter of the way through this novel and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve only put in a few pages at a time at the breakfast table. The characters and action are so easy to picture, which makes it nice to pick up when I have a couple of extra minutes to sip my coffee in the morning.

What I'm Reading Now | Succulents and Sunnies

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I added Born a Crime to my Christmas list after a few recommendations from friends. This is another one on the list that I have not started. I’m excited to crack it open, but I think it might be one that deserves undivided attention. I’m waiting for a low key long weekend to dive in.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Reading Catch 22 has been a years-long process. I started it again this fall after getting only a few chapters in when I first received it a few years ago. It’s very good, but doesn’t exactly leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside – not that all books should!

Culturematic by Grant McCracken

I always like having a book in my bag to read during lunch at the office. Culturematic, my last lunchtime book, was very interesting. I think I would have liked a college course based on the book, but I won’t be keeping it around now that I’ve finished it.

What I'm Reading Now | Succulents and Sunnies

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Paige got me this for Christmas (along with Hearth & Hand goodies) and I’ll probably take it to Florida as well. I adore Chip & Joanna and will gladly invest my time learning a little bit more about how they created the farmstyle empire they run today.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is not high end literature by any means, but gosh I love her stories of summer romance. This was not my favorite of her books, but it was a cute read that took just a couple of days.

Are you reading anything good right now? Let me know in the comments!