Winter in Western New York can be unforgiving, to say the least. Weeks upon weeks of scraping ice off your car, wearing so many layers you’re mistaken for a snowman and being almost certain you’ll never feel your toes again. It’s slightly ironic to be writing this now, because it’s been 55° for two days in a row. But trust me, it was snowing four days ago.
Because winter is harsh, both physically and mentally, people here in colder climates have tricks to make it through. I want to share some of my favorite winter pick-me-ups that helped me through the season this year:
A new loose leaf tea infuser and the amazing salted caramel pumpkin tea from Wegmans. My sister gifted me with the infuser and a wonderful collection of loose leaf tea that I’ve been savoring all winter. I never would have gotten this for myself, but I love it! Also, Wegmans for the win (as per usual), because this tea is just as delicious as the expensive specialty stores.
Anyone who knows me knows that I wear my plaid Joy Susan blanket scarf daily from October to March. This thing is so cozy and makes me looked pulled together with minimal effort. And when the heat at work is making less effort than would be ideal, this scarf really is blanket-sized.
My new Warby Parker glasses are cute, affordable and come with better customer service than my local eye doctor. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with the company, both via email and in person. In the dead of winter, a positive experience (especially when it has the potential to be not so great) is a wonderful thing.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is an inspiring read, even when you only have time for a chapter. I actually read a few excerpts for a class my last semester at Ithaca, which prompted me to add the book to my Christmas list this year. I’m not done yet, but I’ve been pairing a few pages with my eggs every morning, and I highly recommend it.
For anyone who lives in the cold and doesn’t want to spend every weekend skating or skiing, getting out of the cold is a must. This is why my passport is a winter essential. This year Cody and I escaped to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, which I highly recommend. If you haven’t already, check out my travel diary of the trip!
I almost never buy candles for myself, but my friend held a Yankee Candle fundraiser this fall so I splurged and bought “Autumn Wreath,” which smells exactly like you might imagine. Fall is my favorite season, so bringing the scent of apple, green leaf and cinnamon into the winter months makes me happy.
My skin does not like the dry air of a Buffalo winter, so any product that makes it a little happier is a good investment. This year, I’m loving Lush’s Aqua Marina face and body cleanser. It’s a clay-based product that soothes skin with aloe, seaweed and calamine. One note of caution – the seaweed gets EVERYWHERE, so you might be washing your shower curtain more often than usual.
Also from Lush is the alcohol-free Breath of Fresh Air toner, which includes sea water, aloe vera gel and rose absolute. It’s a great follow up to an exfoliating face wash and I feel like it gets that extra layer of grime off while also refreshing my wind-whipped face.
Cody got me a subscription to Magnolia Journal for Christmas, which is further fueling my love for the work of Joanna Gaines. Politics aside, I think she is an incredibly talented designer who creates beautiful homes, businesses and publications. Plus, it’s already spring in Texas, and the latest issue is packed full of warm-weather plants, clothes, design and more.
Cody and I spent a week in the beautiful country of Costa Rica, celebrating our college diplomas and a break from the grey weather at home. We planed the trip ourselves, reading countless blogs, guide books and hotel reviews. We ended up splitting our time between the capital city of San José and the coastal town of Manuel Antonio.
San Jose is a bustling city, and it deserved the full day we gave it. Our hotel was near both the beautiful Parque Metropolitano La Sabana and a bus stop. We took the bus downtown (we decided not to rent a car, thank goodness!) and wandered the car-free Avenida Central before spending time at the Museo del Oro Precolombino. Our favorite part was The Numismatic Museum, an exhibit on the history of the Costa Rican monetary system.
Our second day started with a Nature Air flight to Quepos, a small town on the Pacific Coast. The flight over the mountains was bumpy, but beautiful, emerging out of the clouds into a sunny ocean view. The plane landed on a driveway-sized strip of blacktop in the middle of a field of palm trees and we had arrived at the Quepos Airport, a building the size of our garage. We traveled by taxi and bus to our Airbnb in Manuel Antonio in the 85° heat, which we welcomed.
Our apartment was in the perfect spot, in the hills with a beautiful view of the National Park. We loved the nearby restaurants, and when we opened our windows at night, we could hear music and laughter, and chants of “Green Bay, Green Bay” from the sports bar full of Americans. We could walk to the National Park and the beautiful public beach, and shared our view with monkeys, toucans and a giant iguana.
In Manuel Antonio, our days started with the sun and we were sound asleep, tired from a day in the sun, before 10 pm every night. This is without a doubt my favorite sleep schedule and I felt so rested by the end of our trip.
Our day in Manuel Antonio National Park was hot and sweaty, but also really cool. We saw spider, white-faced and howler monkeys, deer, raccoon and a sloth! While in the park we swam at every beach: Playa Manuel Antonio, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Las Gemelas. The next day, we followed questionable instructions to Playa Biesanz that actually worked really well (turn off the road after Shana Hotel – there’s a gap in the fence) and were treated to incredible views and delicious drinks.
We read a lot about what our weekend in Manuel Antonio was going to be like, but we were so pleasantly surprised by so many things. Firstly, the humidity is high, but not suffocating, and it didn’t rain at all! The ocean water was the same temperature as the air, and in the cove beaches (Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Biesanz) the water was incredibly calm. Everywhere we went, but especially in the beautiful beach town, people are so kind and so willing to help you get wherever you need to go!
Manuel Antonio was incredible, mesmerizing us so fully that we attempted to change our flight to have one more night there. It didn’t work out, but that was okay, because our last night in San Jose changed my perception of the city. Our first day was fun, but I was still wary in this big Central American city. After a long weekend on the beach, I was more able to enjoy the details that make San José a beautiful place.
It didn’t hurt that our dinner at Tenedor Argentina was delicious. Frozen yogurt in San José isn’t the same as home though, which was slightly disappointing. The traditional Costa Rican breakfast at our hotel and two hours by the pool before heading to the airport the next morning more than made up for the frozen yogurt.
We arrived at home refreshed and sunburned, with a new stamp in our passports and the burning desire for even more. We even dared to talk about where to next (after our bank accounts recover). Possible upcoming trips: the Pacific Northwest, Yellowstone National Park, Germany and Italy!
Melanie was my “dance friend” in high school. We didn’t go to the same high school, but we spent just as much time together as if we had. The last few years, I’ve been in Ithaca while she was in Buffalo and then Boston. Fitting in a coffee date while we’re both home is always nice, but spending a few hours a year with someone you used to see for four hours a night just isn’t the same.
We’ve been trying to coordinate a weekend in Boston for what seems like forever and it finally worked out this month. I knew it was going to be a good weekend when Miss You Much, the song we danced to our junior year in Disney, was playing on the radio as I pulled into Melanie’s driveway. I’ve never heard that song anywhere but the dance studio. It might sound silly, but that song was our everything for at least seven months.
Most of our weekend was spent just hanging out, catching up on new jobs, new cities, and new and old friends. Saturday we spent in Boston. Melanie was the best tour guide for my first trip to the beautiful city. From Granary Burying Ground to Fenway Park and back to Little Italy, we had the best day wandering through the city.
Melanie, thank you so much for letting me stay with you, watching Netflix instead of going out, showing me the beautiful places you love and reminding me that with some friends, anything is fun.
I know this is a little late, but I want to take a minute to reflect on how life has changed in the last few months. I knew that leaving Ithaca College, degree in hand, meant a lot of changes were coming. It’s beginning to sink in just what this really means.
Graduation, and the weeks leading up to it, were filled with friends, hikes and more food than anyone should ever eat. There are so many moments from these weeks I can picture; snapshots I will treasure forever.
We were singing Blink-182 at the top of our lungs, eating more Altoids than real food, spilling all of the popcorn and laughing for half the movie we were trying to watch. The night of graduation, popping champagne into the fountains, we tried to forget the fact that we were all leaving in the morning. To Texas, to Virginia, to all corners of New York.
As much as graduation is an ending, it is also a beginning. I’m so glad to be home. I love seeing old and new friends, exploring revived neighborhoods and having the time to horseback ride again. I am ready to have a normal schedule after a few absolutely crazy semesters.
I’m learning so much on the job – more than I ever absorbed in the classroom. It’s also becoming evident just how lucky I am to have the education I do, one grounded in real-world examples and experience.
But this week, despite a wonderful date night, bible study and catching up with an old friend, I have been homesick for Ithaca. The people I grew to love there, who are now strewn across the country, have been on my mind. It’s time for a reunion!
Cody loves Allegany State Park and I have been tagging along on his camping trips there the last few years. I love that it’s only two hours from home, but it seems like a world away. There’s no Verizon service at the campsites, and it’s spotty elsewhere, which makes the park a wonderful place to unplug. We’ve spent weekends with friends, his family and just the two of us. No matter who you’re with, there are a few requirements for the perfect quick trip:
#1. Hobo Pies: My favorite pie iron creations are pizza pockets and Cody’s family’s “Circle Sandwiches,” which are chocolate, peanut butter and a marshmallow melted over the fire between two pieces of white bread.
#2. Biking around the Lake: The three mile trail around Red House Lake has a picturesque view no matter where you are. There are plenty of off-shoots for more adventure, but passing the Ad Building, the beach, an old ski jump and a boat launch is enough on it’s own.
#3. Kayaking: This is definitely a summer-only Allegany activity, but it’s so much fun to be out on the lake, surrounded by the hills you just biked over.
#4. Deer Crusing: Watching wildlife just after dusk is a cool experience. On our last trip, we saw more than 25 deer, a raccoon, an opossum and a stunning red fox.
#5. Thunder Rocks: There is only one big rock I can climb, but watching both people and dogs scramble over these massive boulders deposited here by an ancient sea is tons of fun!
When I left Ithaca after graduation, I moved almost nothing home. I had until July to clear my apartment, and moving out was a great excuse to spend a weekend in Central New York. My roommate gave us tickets to see Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion at CMAC for Christmas, so we spent a beautiful Friday in June night singing along to their radio hits. I’ve been to a few Kenny Chesney concerts, and it’s like listening to a greatest hits album, but better, because there are new additions every summer.
On Saturday, we stopped at Watkins Glen State Park on our way to Ithaca for a nice hike. The gorge was busy, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the scenery.
We spent the afternoon packing and cleaning before heading to Ithaca Beer Co. for dinner. I love the breweries in Buffalo revitalizing downtown, but there is something special about waiting for your table in an Adirondack chair, surrounded by chickens, fields, gardens and a fire pit. Our drinks and wood fired pizzas were delicious, as always. I tried and loved Java Power, a variation on the brewery’s Flower Power, brewed with local roaster Gimme! Coffee‘s beans.
Sunday morning meant packing up the car and heading home, but we made sure to stop for ice cream on our way. I have been dying to try Cayuga Lake Creamery‘s ice cream for the last four years, but it’s pretty far from Ithaca just for ice cream. It is on the way back to Buffalo, but I’m not usually driving by at an ideal ice cream-eating time. Now that I’ve had the peanut butter ice cream, I believe the hype!
The trip may have been short, but we packed in tons of adventures. I’m already itching to go back to the Finger Lakes.
My roommate, Miriam, spent the fall semester abroad studying in Carlow, Ireland and I have always wanted to visit the country that most of my ancestors came from. Over my fall break, I took the opportunity to visit this beautiful country without having to pay for a hotel and eat every meal at a restaurant. I am so thankful to have spent a large part of my time in this small town, instead of making a large city my home base. Carlow embodied all of the things I was looking forward to in Ireland: castle ruins, churches, a river park, coffee shops and pubs on the narrow main street. I didn’t add an international phone plan so I relied on bus and restaurant wi-fi to keep my friends and family updated on my travels. This really helped me appreciate what was around me without being tied to my phone, which can happen to me, despite my best intentions. The weather during my trip was amazing; while it snowed at home, Ireland experienced a week of sunny, mild fall days.
I arrived in Ireland on Thursday morning after an overnight flight from New York. While waiting for my bus from Dublin to Ireland, not one, but two, bus drivers asked if I was okay. This became a theme throughout the trip; everyone is so kind, even after they discover you’re an American tourist, which happens as soon as you open your mouth. The drive to Carlow was stunning. The sun was shining as we drove through Dublin and into the green, green countryside.
I've been in Ireland for 2 hours and I've seen 3 sheep farms. I can go home now.
Miriam met me at the bus stop between her classes and we headed back to her apartment for a shower. I was really fighting the jet lag that comes with losing 5 hours so I headed to Carlow Coffee Co. for the first of many lattes in Ireland. There is surprisingly good coffee in Ireland, and not just Irish coffee. After my dose of caffeine, I wandered around the charming streets of Carlow and visited the County Carlow Museum and visitor center, which was incredibly helpful in planning the rest of my trip. In my wanderings I saw the ruins of a castle poking up over the rows of houses, and you cannot not walk towards a castle when you see it. When Miriam finished classes for the day we make a quick trip to Aldi, made dinner and caught up. Then we laid out the map of Dublin and circled each place we wanted to visit the next day. Student discounts are great in Ireland, especially the bus fares, which really helped us get to everywhere we wanted to go. We went to bed very early to be ready for the next day.
We caught the bus from Carlow to Dublin without a hitch, but didn’t get off at the right stop, so we ended up at the airport. The bus driver pointed us in the right direction to take the city bus back into Dublin. We started our day in the Temple Bar neighborhood at the farmers’ market. We bought farm-fresh quiches to eat later in the day and wandered to the artisan market. I fell in love with the leather bracelets at ThunderSolas and decided that everyone I know needed them for Christmas. We wandered towards Trinity College, where we had lunch on the square among both students and tourists, passing by the Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral on our way. After getting a little lost on Grafton Street, we crossed the river to get to the Jameson Old Distillery. The building is so cool, and our tour guide was hysterical.
After a whiskey taste test between Jameson, Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels, which confirmed my dislike for whiskey, we headed to the Guinness Storehouse. I am proud to say that, after attending The Guinness Academy, I can now pour a beautiful pint. The Gravity Bar’s view of the city and surrounding mountains was the best part of the tour. We had lamb stew at The Porterhouse for dinner and slowly made our way back to the bus station through Temple Bar. The street musicians all day, and especially that night outside the pubs, were so talented and I loved every single one.
On Sunday, we went back to Dublin and caught a city bus out to Howth, about a 45 minute ride. This little fishing village was my favorite part of my trip. We walked the east pier, marveling at the colorful boats and cliffs. The Grind provided our caffeine fix for the day, and the friendly staff pointed us towards The Abbey Tavern, where we had the most delicious lunch of our trip. I had a beef and Guinness pie, and Miriam had a huge piece of salmon that even I thought was delicious. Ireland was playing in the Rugby World Cup on every TV in the pub.
After visiting the little food and craft market in town, we walked down the west pier, which is where I found the West Pier Art Studio and met Alan McLeod. I am blown away by the way Alan captures the village he lives and works in, as well as how kind he is. We got to know each other while he tried to get enough of a wi-fi signal through the foot-thick stone walls of his ancient building to process my credit card information. And when I left the print I bought from Alan for my dad’s Christmas present on a Dublin city bus that night, he was kind enough to replace not only that print, but also the smaller version he had already given me for free for myself. This experience cemented my love for the beautiful country and people of Ireland.
Miriam and I walked around the peninsula of Howth and encountered some of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen. Horses grazing next to the path only added to how much I enjoyed the view; from above, we watched cliff jumpers in wet suits flip into the water. We left Howth in the late afternoon to get back to Carlow with enough time to visit Miriam’s favorite pub, Tully’s. We drank Kopparberg Cider and listened to some lovely live music.
On Monday I was on my own, so I headed to Killkenny on the bus. It amazed me how safe I felt traveling alone here; everyone was willing to help me find my way and point out the best places to visit. During my short trip to this small city I walked the Medieval Mile, stopping at St. Canice’s Cathedral, Black Abbey and The Butterslip. I toured the Kilkenny Castle, which is an amazing combination of medieval and romantic. It practically screams history at you. The butler garden was beautiful and I loved that the outbuildings have been re-purposed into artists’ studios. After heading back to Carlow, I walked towards the river. Here, there was a man walking his raccoon, Sampson, which was definitely the strangest thing I saw during my trip. I had dinner with Miriam and then we had the amazing dessert that is soft serve over a chocolate muffin from Supermac’s.
My last day I spent in Carlow. I went for a foggy morning run along the River Barrow and met Miriam for lunch at Dinn Ri, which was delicious. After lunch, Miriam showed me the IT Carlow campus and I caught up on homework and emails during her afternoon classes. We had a low-key night, because I had to be up at 2 am to catch my bus back to the airport.
Although short, my trip to Ireland was truly an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am so thankful for Miriam for hosting me and pointing me in the right direction, even when she wasn’t able to join me. I am already dreaming of going back to the beautiful country that surpassed every expectation I had for it.
This summer I am staying in beautiful Ithaca for an internship with GreenTree Garden Supply. GreenTree is not only a hydroponic supplies retailer, but also manufactures specialized soil. I spend my days surrounded by brilliant soil scientists who are probably going to change our agricultural world sooner rather than later. My responsibilities include writing and scheduling social content, some market research, building the company’s stock of photography, and creating a few guides for branding and products. While in Ithaca, I plan to take full advantage of the city and all it has to offer in the summer. Just because a location is on the list, it doesn’t mean I’ve never been, I just want to go again in the next few months! Once I’ve gone to a location on my list, I plan updating this post with a picture from that place. Hopefully by the end of August, I’ll have a post full of Instagram-worthy photos!
*Edit: Classes start in 2 days and I have completed a little over half of my list… I still want to get to all the places I have here, so I’ll continue to update this post. Any post with an asterisk were completed during the school year.
This summer in Ithaca was lots of fun. I spent tons of time exploring new parts of the city, and meeting new and different people. Just because I didn’t complete this list doesn’t mean the summer wasn’t a success!!
New Delhi Diamonds Restaurant*
Corning Museum of Glass*
Cayuga Lake Creamery*
Lincoln Street Diner*
Cayuga Lake Wine Trail*
CFCU Summer Concert Series*
Google the phrase “buffalo millennials” and about 350,000 results are found. Many of these results are articles from bloggers and news outlets trying to explain the recent draw of Buffalo for millennials. Recent college graduates usually consider moving to major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles after hanging up their cap and gown, but according to a New York Times article analyzing a recent American Community Survey, Buffalo’s population of 25- to 34-year-old college grads grew by 34 percent from 2000 to 2012. Not even New York, Chicago or Los Angeles claim increases as high as this.
Educated millennials are calling Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, home for many reasons; chief among them is the availability of jobs. With Governor Cuomo’s promise of the “Buffalo Billion,” a state investment of a billion dollars over the next decade in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls region, plans are being made and implemented for new medical, technology and energy facilities. These centers will create thousands of new, specialized jobs that require educated employees, likely to be millennials. Forbes reported a 9 percent increase of millennial jobs in the Buffalo region from 2007 to 2013 and this percentage will continue to grow due to public investment and the private expenditures that will follow. Although not often considered a college town, Buffalo is home to many private and public universities that offer both employment and graduate education opportunities.
Due to Buffalo’s reputation as a city fallen on hard times, the city makes for inexpensive living, creating a haven for millennials. The Urban Homestead Program sells houses to qualified buyers for the whopping sum of $1, plus required closing costs. Even if you can’t manage to get one of these homes, buying a fixer-upper in an up-and-coming neighborhood is more than doable on a recent grad’s budget. If owning a home isn’t your ideal, rent remains reasonable in the city and nearby suburbs. Entertainment options throughout the city are often free, and if not, they don’t cost much at all. Local favorites include the Chippewa District’s bars, clubs and restaurants; ice skating, canoeing, and the Naval and Military Park at Canalside; Food Truck Tuesdays and more at Larkinville; as well as free concerts at venues throughout the city all summer long.
Buffalo residents can all feel the energy and affection that surrounds this city – what locals call “Buffalove.” The region has a long, colorful history that includes the Erie Canal, diverse immigrant populations, U.S. presidents, Frank Lloyd Wright, steel mills, Fredrick Law Olmstead, a World’s Fair and Niagara Falls. These and many other happenings have shaped Buffalo into a cultural hub with gritty, loyal citizens who will stand by their city’s past, present and future. Recently, Buffalove manifested in the Pegula family’s purchase of both the Buffalo Bills (NFL) and Sabres (NHL). This family has invested in “OneBuffalo,” a slogan representing the united community of the region; they are breathing new life into the city with HarborCenter, the downtown hockey complex, as well as other developments. OneBuffalo signifies the movement towards an even better Buffalo, a movement fueled by a renewed interest in this beautiful city by young, educated residents who can make a difference.
Many Ithaca College students and graduates are clamoring for internships and jobs in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. These individuals may fail to realize the price of living fast-paced, demanding and expensive lives in the big city. Buffalo embodies many characteristics millennials look for when moving around after college; this city deserves the chance to show you a little Buffalove.