On the Water in October with Brookdog Fishing Co.

Last time my dad, sister and I were out on the water with Ryan of Brookdog Fishing Co. it was a beautiful 90° day on Lake Erie. He assured us there’s more to fishing in Western New York than catching smallmouth bass all summer long. We took his word for it and booked a fall fishing trip with Brookdog this year.

We met Ryan at 7 am, just as the sky was beginning to turn from grey to pink. As the sun rose, the fog lifted from the water and the trees, just beginning to change from green to brilliant yellow, lit up. If nothing else, it was a gorgeous day to be outside. Of course, simply hanging out on the water is not Ryan’s style. After a fish-filled trip last summer, we knew we’d see some rod-bending battles throughout the day.

Fishing for salmon in Devil's Hole

A bent fishing rod as fog rises over Niagara River

The original plan was to fish for salmon (among other things) in the lower Niagara River. This year’s salmon run isn’t as impressive as in years past, at least not in this Lake Ontario tributary. After a couple of beautiful early morning drifts in Devil’s Hole left us empty-handed, we headed downstream for some native species.

We weren’t disappointed, and it wasn’t just because we broke into the delicious breakfast sandwiches Ryan packed for us. Over the next five hours, Ryan coached us through catching smallmouth bass, lake trout, a gorgeous rainbow trout and a huge walleye. We also thoroughly enjoyed drifting along in the calm water, soaking in one of the last warm(ish) days of fall.

The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge as seen from the Niagara River

Holding a lake trout caught in the Lower Niagara River

After a day like this one, I’m sunburned, sore, and thinking there’s no way Paige and I will ever be able to top this Father’s Day gift.

Shuffle Off to Buffalo with WNYBAC

On a grey April day, the lovely staff at Western New York Book Arts Center welcomed the Buffalo Bloggers into their eclectic space. The Center is dedicated to sharing the art of “printing and book-related arts,” which to be honest I didn’t know a whole lot about. As a writer and reader, even a primarily digital one, that’s a mission I can get behind.

Nicole and Melissa, our guides for the evening, gave us plenty of time to flip through posters printed at the Center and other goodies in the first floor retail shop. If you’re not in the market for new wall decor, head for the card racks to find the right message for your special someone, mom or newly engaged friend.

Then came the good part: heading downstairs to see the printing presses in action. Nicole set up a design on the Center’s huge Vandercook 219 proof press, affectionately referred to as Olga. Us bloggers took turns printing posters that every Buffalover can get behind.

Printing on "Olga" at WNY Book Arts Center

Printing on "Olga" at WNY Book Arts Center

After laying out my very own poster out to dry, I poked through what seemed like thousands of type fonts used by artists at the center. They seem to have everything you could ever need, from itty bitty serif letters to huge ornamental pieces. And if you want to make the Richardson Olmsted Campus out of the alphabet, as one member had laid out on a table, you can do that too.

Shuffle off to Buffalo poster printed at WNY Book Arts Center

If you want to learn more about the book arts for yourself (and you should), the Center offers workshops in letterpress, screen printing and more!

LEGO Dreams Come True at The Art of the Brick

This weekend, The Art of the Brick opens at the Buffalo Museum of Science in all of its brightly colored LEGO glory. Cody and I were invited to check out the exhibit, which is the brainchild of lawyer-turned-LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya, a few days early. We headed to Buffalo’s East Side on Thursday night, excited to not only see the LEGO masterpieces but wander through a few of the Museum’s other exhibits, since we hadn’t been inside since a school field trip a dozen or so years ago.

The Buffalo Museum of Science’s collection of artifacts is incredible and reason enough to spend an afternoon wandering through the exhibits, no matter how old you are. But nothing, and I mean nothing, is as cool as LEGOs. Especially when they’re being used to recreate iconic works of art and portray human emotion.

Nathan Sawaya's The Art of the Brick at the Buffalo Museum of Science

The exhibit is split roughly into 4 sections and the first is where you’ll find Sawaya’s reimagining of well-known works of art. He’s got everything from Michelangelo’s David to van Gogh’s Starry Night. Every piece was incredible, even disregarding the fact that it’s made from thousands of LEGOs. Some of my favorite works of art were recreated for the exhibit, including Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (Edgar Degas) and The Great Wave (Katsushika Hokusai), which was pretty cool.

Nathan Sawaya's The Art of the Brick at the Buffalo Museum of Science

Next are the original models Sawaya is most well known for. These are mostly human forms, as well as kid-approved crayons, castles, jacks and a giant dinosaur. If you think LEGOs aren’t an excellent medium for sharing your point of view on human emotion and expression, get ready for this exhibit to prove you wrong.

Part 3 is a wonderfully minimalist collaboration between Sawaya and photographer Dean West. I still can’t believe the incredible attention to detail that made a building material as simple as LEGOs so lifelike.

Nathan Sawaya's The Art of the Brick at the Buffalo Museum of Science

What fun is looking at LEGOs if you can’t build with them? To be honest, just looking was pretty fun. But this is the Buffalo Museum of Science, so of course, there are lots of cool ways to use LEGOs for yourself in the fourth and final section of the exhibit, appropriately called The Science of the Brick. We opted not to build the Great Wall of China or the Colosseum out of LEGOs, but we did design some cool race cars to try on the timed (!) track.

The Science of the Brick at the Buffalo Museum of Science

We probably spent 30 minutes in The Art of the Brick and if you’re really into building the best LEGO race car there ever was (among other cool challenges), you could probably spend another 30 creating your masterpieces. The Museum is predicting some pretty big crowds this weekend, but you can check out the exhibit any time from now until May 5th!

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I received an invitation to the VIP preview reception of The Art of the Brick at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The thoughts I share here are always my own!

Cozy Corners at Hotel Henry

Hotel Henry opened at the Richardson Olmsted Complex almost two years ago, but I didn’t have the chance to explore until a few months ago. I met Andrea just inside the impressive glass entrance for an early morning photo shoot on a grey day perfect for exploring.

The Complex as a whole and the building that houses the hotel have a long, complicated, emotional history. Hotel Henry has been beautifully restored and is now home to wedding receptions, Sunday brunch and weekend retreats.

Andrea and I took advantage of the beautiful nooks and crannies throughout the first few floors of the hotel for some cozy photos. I’m pretty happy behind the camera, but letting someone else be the photographer for the day is outside my comfort zone. Andrea was so easy to work with and we had a great time, helped by delicious coffee from Henry’s adorable espresso counter.

Check out some of my favorite shots from the morning:

Cozy photo session at Hotel Henry in Buffalo, NY

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Cozy photo session at Hotel Henry in Buffalo, NY

4 Birthday Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Buffalo Gal

Girls from Buffalo love Buffalo. They love exploring Buffalo, plastering their walls with Buffalove and supporting local makers. There’s no better time to indulge your favorite Buffalo gal with all things Buffalo than her birthday! Need a few ideas? I’ve got you covered.

1. Half Hoop Pin Earrings from Peg’s Hardware

Walk through almost any Buffalo boutique or market and you’ll find a crowd around Peg’s Hardware’s delicate jewelry. These hoops are just different enough to make a statement, while still being totally acceptable for everyday outfits.

Half Hoop Pin Earrings from Peg's Hardware | Buffalo Birthday Gift Ideas

You can find these, and other beautiful jewelry, in their Etsy shop.

2. An Overnight Stay at Hotel Henry

If your Buffalo gal prefers experiences over things, treat her to a night at Hotel Henry (or any one of Buffalo’s beautiful historic hotels). Lots of local hotels, Hotel Henry included, are offering great deals on all-inclusive packages for the winter and spring, which make for a perfect birthday staycation.

Once you arrive at Hotel Henry, there are so many great ways to fill a weekend within walking distance: the Burchfield Penney, Albright Knox, Delaware Park, and shops and restaurants in the Elmwood Village. Make it a romantic weekend; make it a girls’ weekend; make it a family weekend.

Check out Hotel Henry’s current offers on their website.

3. Let’s Go Buffalo Pennant from Oxford Pennant

If your favorite Buffalo gal is a Bills, Sabres, Bulls, Bandits, Beauts or Bisons fan, she needs this pennant. It’s going to look so good on her wall (and her Instagram).

Let's Go Buffalo Pennant | Buffalo Birthday Gift Ideas

Shop all of Oxford Pennant’s flags, banners and pennants online.

4. A Mug from Ritual Clay Company

Drinking morning coffee (from, say, Goodrich, Public or Steamworks) out of a handmade mug feels so special. This Rochester-based potter creates gorgeous, thick-walled mugs that are sure to set your girl up for a good day.

Ritual Clay Company Mug | Goodrich Coffee | Buffalo Birthday Gift Ideas

If my experience is any indication, this gift arrives at your front door with lightning speed (just a day or two after ordering), making it a good option if you’re short on time.

Browse mugs and more on Ritual Clay Company’s website.

Playing Tourist for a Morning

When my sister Paige comes home from Salem, it’s usually for a holiday. So, when she spent a weekend at home just because this fall, we had to head downtown for a little sightseeing. We packed three tourist-worthy stops into just a couple hours.

Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck

This has been on my Buffalo bucket list for years. We finally made it to the 28th floor of Buffalo City Hall, which offers 360° views of the city, both inside and out. Of course, it was cold on the ground and even colder 350 feet up. But what is a late-fall morning in Buffalo without a brisk breeze? 

The bird’s eye view isn’t the only thing to look at here. The murals in the lobby, ornate Art Deco elevators and location on Niagara Square add to the draw of City Hall. 

View of Buffalo from City Hall Observation Deck
View of Buffalo from City Hall Observation Deck

Public Espresso + Coffee

Paige wanted to see Jaime Schmidt’s new murals, which weren’t a part of the space last time she had free time in town. So, we walked to Hotel @ The Lafayette from City Hall for lunch and coffee. 

PSL at Public Espresso + Coffee

The best part about Public is how immediately you feel at home. Everyone is always so friendly, which is something I really value as a tourist, even in my own city. The amazing grilled cheese and tomato soup didn’t hurt.

Wildflowers for Buffalo

Just a block from Public is another piece of art that I wanted to see, Louise Jones’s Wildflowers for Buffalo. 

Louise Jones's Wildflowers for Buffalo

It seems like every time I blink, Buffalo’s collection of public art is more impressive. To be good tourists, we had to check out one of the newest pieces. The purple coneflowers (which my mom grew dozens of while we were growing up) looked stunning against the blue sky, despite the freezing cold wind.

A Classic Birthday Buffalo Brewery Tour

We have visited a lot of Buffalo’s craft breweries but never organized a proper brewery tour – until a few weeks ago. To celebrate Cody and his brother’s birthday, as well as a friend’s upcoming move, we rented a big yellow school bus and hit some of our favorite breweries.

1. 12 Gates Brewing Company

It’s still weird that 12 Gates is in an industrial park. However, I’ve never received bad service here and our brewery tour was no exception. We were the only group in the taproom, so I didn’t feel bad about tasting some new brews. The Coffee Porter on nitro was everything I wanted it to be on a cold, rainy day.

Coffee Porter on nitro at 12 Gates, Buffalo, NY

2. Flying Bison Brewing Company

I don’t have a go-to beer here, so I usually branch out a little bit more than other breweries. This time, I tried the Bisonberry Kolsch, which was refreshing after the creamy porter.

Stained glass logo at Flying Bison, Buffalo, NY

We ordered pizza and had it delivered here, which is, according to the Carbone’s delivery driver, totally fine. The pizza was delicious and tasted great with the beer.

3. Community Beer Works

Alpaca Porter and beer list at Community Beer Works, Buffalo, NY

I can’t get over how welcoming CBW’s new space is. It’s the perfect mix of good beer, repurposed industrial space, games and natural light. We stayed here for a drink (I had an Alpaca Porter) and a few more friends of friends joined our group.

4. Resurgence Brewing Company

Resurgence’s beer isn’t my favorite, but their space is an awesome place to end a brewery tour. Morgan, Shannon and I split a flight while watching a few intense games of giant Jenga. My personal favorite was, of course, Vanilla Cappuccino Pumpkin Ale.

Pumpkin Ale at Resurgence, Buffalo, NY

It was nice to visit some oldies-but-goodies, especially with Buffalo getting so many new breweries in the coming months.

I wouldn’t have changed anything about the breweries we visited or the order we visited them in. Coming from the Northtowns, we didn’t have time to fit all the breweries downtown or in South Buffalo. There are so many good options north of downtown I really didn’t feel like we missed out.