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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

A Rainy Day at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff

While history was never my favorite subject in school, Buffalo’s industrious past and the extravagant wealth that came with it would have to try pretty hard not to be interesting. This wealth brought some of history’s most talented artists, designers, architects and more to this city. Fortunately, Buffalo’s current renaissance is helping our city and state realize these gems of the past are worth restoring. Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces here are some of the latest landmarks to receive this well-deserved and long-awaited treatment.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Paige and I gifted my dad with tour tickets to Graycliff for his birthday last year. It took Paige planning a move to Boston (😢) to actually schedule a tour. We took the basic tour, which is an hour and 15 minutes long, for $18 each ($12 for students!) and it was definitely in-depth enough for the casual visitor. You can buy tickets online or once you arrive at the estate.

The tour starts at the gift shop, of course, where your tour guide will give you some background on Frank Lloyd Wright, Buffalo at the time when the Martins were designing this house and the Martins themselves. Graycliff is a bit of a sister home to the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, as it served as the summer home for the Martin family.

Even on a rainy fall day, you can see why Wright took so much inspiration from this lakefront property. The horizon, visible both through and around the home, is imitated in the lines of the home, and the natural materials of the home are the same as the earth beneath it. The stone is tichenor limestone, unique due to its rusting iron content and noticeable fossils.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

The exterior of Graycliff is almost completely restored, and the interior is coming together as grants and donations are secured. Lots of original details are still in tact inside, including a fire hose on the second floor, a huge stone fireplace and a greenhouse-like room filled with ferns.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

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Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Because there were only 5 of us on the tour, our guide took us through the majority of the home, even on the basic tour. She took time to share the Martins’ story, the history of the home after the Martins were no longer able to afford to maintain it, and the big picture regarding Wright’s life as an architect.

The garage, which once held the Martins’ 4 cars and driver’s living quarters, now serves as a workspace for the restoration of the home. There’s also a Pierce Arrow car, similar to one which the Martins would have traveled in, on loan from the Pierce Arrow Museum.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

This tour was informative and interesting; they did a great job putting a narrative into history. And our tour guide asked me and Paige at the end if we had all the pictures we needed, which is basically a blogger’s dream come true. Graycliff is definitely worth the drive and the price of admission, no matter how much you think you like or dislike history!

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall

Fall is such a delicious time of year, and the seasonal beers from local breweries are no exception. Apple, cinnamon and pumpkin make for a great addition to the bar as well as the dessert table.

If you’re looking for a new Buffalo beer to try this fall, check out these 3 tasty brews:

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Southern Tier Brewing Co. Cold Press Coffee Pumking

1. Southern Tier Brewing Co. Cold Press Coffee Pumking

STBC’s Pumking is a autumn staple. Last year I enjoyed Rum Barrel Aged Pumking, so this fall I tried the cold press coffee variation of the beer. The cold press coffee and pumpkin spice mix to create what pretty much tastes like a pumpkin spice latte in beer form. What’s not to love?

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Big Ditch Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale

2. Big Ditch Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale

Big Ditch seasonals are always delicious, and this fall’s Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale is no exception. You have to like cinnamon and allspice to enjoy this beer, because it is seriously spiced. It’s also not as sweet as you might expect from a beer made with local apple cider, which I enjoyed. If you’re looking for fall in a can (yep, it comes in a can!), look no further.

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Hamburg Brewing Company 550 Game Time

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Hamburg Brewing Company 550 Game Time

3. Hamburg Brewing Company 550 Game Time

Fall wouldn’t be the same without listening to the Bills’ game on WGR on Sunday. Hamburg Brewing Company captured all those game day vibes in their American Pale Ale, 550 Game Time. This is nothing fancy, but neither is Buffalo, and I thought this tasted pretty good!

My Fall Favorites: Essentials for Making the Most of Autumn

It’s officially autumn and even though it’s still warm in the afternoon, the mornings have been cool and foggy. Fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month. I make the the most of fall with mums in every shade of yellow, red and purple, apple pie and cable knits. And yes, that is a pumpkin spice latte in my coffee cup.

These are my favorite fall accessories:

1. L.L. Bean Boots
Breaking out my fall shoes is an occasion worth celebrating, and no pair of boots makes me happier than my Bean Boots. They’re so comfy and my favorite fuzzy socks fit inside! I’ve also found that some of my favorite fall activities take place in my Bean Boots. Cue the cool weather hikes, fall festivals and weekend camping trips.

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2. Columbia Thermal Crew Socks
I love thermal socks and wear them the majority of the year. These are by far my favorites: they don’t fall down, the aren’t too fluffy and they keep my feer super warm. Bonus: I found these socks at TJ Maxx for less than they’re listed online on Columbia’s website.

3. Mums
This one is pretty self explanatory. What’s not to love about mums at the entrance of every store and on every porch in every fall color.

My Fall Favorites and Autumn Essentials

4. Yankee Candle Spiced Pumpkin Car Jar
I *highly* recommend investing in a fall-scented Car Jar. After my car is sitting in the sun all day, I open the door and it honestly smells like I’m pulling pumpkin cookies out of the oven. Who doesn’t need that after a long day at the office?

5. Artisan de Luxe Nell Throw
I almost bought this for myself last week at Home Goods, and, in a testament to how well my mom knows my style, she bought it for me for my birthday this week. The rich texture compliments our worn leather couch and natural throw pillows really well and I’m excited to curl up in it as the weather gets cooler.

My Fall Favorites and Autumn Essentials

6. Nanny’s Apple Pie
My grandma was a fantastic baker, and nothing was more impressive than her Thanksgiving staple, apple pie. My aunt is continuing the apple pie tradition. If I’m the one making, I’m more of an apple crisp kind of baker, but nothing is quite the same as a flaky crust and perfectly layered apple slices.

7. Homemade Concord Grape Jelly
This is probably a weird addition to a fall favorites list for those of you who don’t look forward to picking grapes off the vine in September every year. My dad’s uncle’s vineyard looked (and tasted) delicious when we visited last month; there’s nothing better than concords warmed by the sun on a fall day. And of course, there’s nothing to do with the pounds of grapes we picked but to make jelly!

My Fall Favorites and Autumn Essentials
Also, how cute is this apple hand towel my grandma embroidered?

8. Mossimo Supply Co. Cable Knit Cocoon Cardigan
If it was in my budget, I’d buy this sweater in every color. It’s so warm and cozy, and it comes in the best fall colors. The cable knit adds a little extra texture that makes this sweater perfect for throwing over a summer tank and calling it fall, which is my favorite kind of fashion.

9. Falling Leaves
Autumn is synonymous with gorgeous foliage. I spent countless hours pressing fall leaves in phone books as a kid, and did it again last fall for my holiday gift tags. No matter how old I get, there is such thrill in finding an unblemished red leaf on the ground.