A Fall Staycation at Hart House Hotel

Spending a little time away from home, no matter how far you actually go, is always a nice break from day-to-day life. Cody and I had the opportunity to spend a night at Hart House Hotel in Medina and jumped at the chance – despite the fact that Cody lives exactly .5 miles from the hotel. Hart House is a beautifully restored factory with tons of tiny details that make it so welcoming.

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

When I was in elementary school, my favorite family trip was our annual long weekend in Rochester. Not Cape Cod, not Disney World, but a hotel with a pool an hour east on the Thruway. We used to visit the museum, planetarium, mall and bagel shop. These trips didn’t have a long car ride or the stress of not knowing where you were.

The same was true about our stay at Hart House. We knew what we wanted for dinner and where we were heading for drinks afterwards. We had time to stop in all the shops we’re always saying we should go into. I couldn’t even forget my leftovers in the hotel fridge because we stopped at Cody’s house between dinner and heading to the hotel.

We started our staycation with dinner at Mariachi de Oro, which is always a good choice for authentic fajitas and enchiladas, plus 60 ounce margaritas, if that’s your thing. We walked from Hart House to Fitzgibbons for drinks. Fitz has a great selection of Irish and local beer, plus gorgeous woodwork and servers in kilts.

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

We woke up at Hart House to a sun drenched morning, perfect for iced coffee and Roberts’ cider from Shirt Factory Cafe. The weather felt more like June than September, perfect for walking to shops on Main Street. Our first stop was to The Bread Basket for peanut butter chocolate chip and cookies and cream scones (disclaimer: Cody’s mom owns The Bread Basket 😉).

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

After wandering through the farmers’ market, the rest of our day included stops at Creekside Floral (for our Ale in Autumn tickets!), Ellen J. Goods and Filomena’s Favorites. Medina is ready for fall, with chrysanthemums and rustic decor in every direction. I even did a little Christmas shopping…

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

On my way home I stopped at Roberts’ Farm Market for cider and to wander through their mums, pumpkins and u-pick orchards.

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

If Hart House is a little further than a 15 minute drive, there’s lots to do between Medina and Buffalo. Spend the weekend and check out Alternative Grounds or Steamworks for coffee, hike at the Royalton Ravine or spend some time at Bear Bottom Wholesale!

Public Kold Brew + Productivity at The Grange

As a blogger, I’m constantly trying new breweries and coffee shops, photographing weekend trips and exploring Buffalo’s neighborhoods. Cody and my family are great sports about this, but they definitely appreciate it when I finally put down the camera and actually eat what I ordered.

For this post though, I collaborated with fellow blogger (and vlogger!) Julia. Instead of shooting me an eye roll while I took a good 10 photos of my empty plate, she videoed me doing it.

Meet Julia Jornsay-Silverberg

I’ve talked about Julia before. Last summer I started doing a bit of freelance social media work for her. The majority of our communication is over email, but we make sure to meet up every once in a while over coffee or smoothies to talk social media, blogging, clients and Buffalo.

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Julia Jornsay-Silverberg

This coffee date/work sesh was special; we wanted to do a collaboration somewhere different, with me photographing and her taking footage for her YouTube channel. The Grange Community Kitchen is a newer restaurant (they opened in the summer of 2016) that shows up on local bloggers’ Instagrams almost daily. Neither of us had visited yet, so it was the perfect place to sip Public Kold Brew and be productive together.

Hamburg’s Farmers’ Market

Hamburg is definitely a bit of a drive from other WNY towns, including mine, so I wanted to make my trip worth it. I got to Main Street a little before Julia (shoutout to Hamburg law enforcement for not enforcing that 2 hour parking…) and wandered towards the farmers’ market.

As an Ithaca College graduate, I have very high expectations for a farmers’ market (the Ithaca one is stunning – like people get married there it’s so pretty). I have to say that Hamburg does a pretty good job. There were dozens of vendors with a good mix of produce, meat and baked goods, and well over 100 people, including families and so many adorable dogs!

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Succulents and Sunnies

From there, I headed down Buffalo Street, aiming to check out Nickel City Designs. I didn’t make it that far, but I’ll just have to visit again soon!

The Grange Community Kitchen

Now, for the main attraction: The Grange Community Kitchen. Let’s just start with the space, which is stunning. All the minimalist, Instagramable, exposed brick, gold-accent vibes had us swooning as soon as we walked in the door. It helps that you’re greeted by a custom tiled entryway. Julia just happened to be taking a picture of her feet with that tile while I ordered, which gave me the chance to ask the barista if just about everyone does that. She said that yes, she watches people do that all day long.

The_Grange_Community_Kitchen_SucculentsandSunnies_3

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Succulents and Sunnies

I ordered an iced coffee (from Public, of course) and an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. It turned out to be probably the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. There are no photos of it, just of my empty plate and Julia’s iced chai after I finished inhaling my sandwich.

The Grange also serves lunch and dinner with a full bar and wood-fired pizza. Like their brunch menu, lunch and dinner “are inspired by what’s in season and reflect [the restaurant’s] commitment to utilize goods obtained from local farmers and producers.” Don’t worry, I’ll report back on that ASAP. 😜

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Succulents and Sunnies

After eating, we moved outside to take more photos (duh) and get some work done. The Grange has pretty reliable WiFi and you can ask any of the staff for the password. Even on a busy Saturday afternoon, we didn’t get any funny looks for taking up a table with just our drinks left.

I can 100% say that The Grange (and the adorable town of Hamburg) are worth the drive, and should definitely be added to your summer to do list!

Julia’s Take on The Grange

While I prefer to write about my experiences, Julia takes video footage. For her take on our beautiful day in Hamburg, plus more details on the farmers’ market and The Grange, check out her latest YouTube video:

Want to get to know Julia?

You can check out Julia’s YouTube channel for both lifestyle and social media tips. Her blog is packed with social media and online branding how-tos. To learn more about her everyday life, check out her *very cohesive* Instagram feed.

A Buffalo Girls’ Day Out

Brunch. Shopping. Coffee shops. Ice cream.

When Chessa of Vintage Lillies and I plan a girls’ day, we don’t mess around.

I first met Chessa in high school, where we were both in yearbook club and scholastic bowl like the nerds we are. We crossed paths a few times after graduating, but it wasn’t until we both ended up in the Buffalo Blogging Network that we really had a chance to catch up. What better way to reconnect than with a collaboration between our blogs, filled with all the best things Buffalo has to offer?

Whether you’re a Western New York native or taking a weekend trip, spending a day in the city with good company is always relaxing. Follow our footsteps for the perfect girls’ day out in Buffalo:

Stop 1: Brunch on the West Side

It’s basically impossible to have a girls’ day without brunch. Breadhive was our choice, and it was buzzing with friends and families. The decor is perfect, with a painted tin ceiling, stained glass and paneled walls. We ordered sandwiches (me from the breakfast menu and Chessa from the lunch menu), headed outside and chatted about what the rest of our day would look like.

Brunch spot perfect for: great sandwiches, cold brew + wall decor w/ humor

A post shared by Francesca Bond (@chessabond) on

While on Connecticut Street, stop by Burning Books for a beautifully curated and displayed collection on titles on feminism (this is a girls’ day after all), political activism, diversity and history.

Stop 2: Shopping on Elmwood Ave.

Elmwood Ave. is a treasure-trove of shops, with everything from secondhand scarves to upscale coasters. I’m not normally a thrift store shopper, most likely because my fashion sense is pretty basic. I’m way more comfortable upcycling furniture than repurposing clothes. Shopping with Chessa was eye-opening! We made stops at both Scoop Shop and Second Chic (which is seriously adorable).

Everything Elmwood, Fern + Arrow and Anna Grace were also stops on our shopping spree. So much for doing this girls’ day on a budget…

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

Stop 3: Coffee in Allentown

There’s so many good coffee shops in Buffalo, but we settled on Grindhaus Cafe for a post-shopping pick-me-up. We went for lemonade instead of coffee, which was delivered to us in huge mason jars. This was exactly what we needed to carry on.

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

Stop 4: Ice Cream on Hertel Ave.

Carry on to ice cream, that is. I’ve mentioned before that Hertel Ave. is seriously the place to be for amazing ice cream. We tried Churn, and it was so darn good. I went for the De la Lloyd, a massive amount of chocolate on chocolate on chocolate, all on a waffle cone, which they make in house.

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

In a small attempt to make ourselves feel better about eating ice cream for dinner, we walked down to Bunnie Reiss’s beautiful addition to the Buffalo public art scene at Joe’s Deli.

Our entire journey is mapped out for you here 👇

Make sure you check out Vintage Lillies for incredible street fashion, the best thrift shops, weekend getaways and groovy playlists. You can also follow Chessa on Instagram (and you definitely should!).

Tequila-Infused Coffee and a Milkshake for Dinner

Hertel Ave.’s growth into a destination of its own within Buffalo’s city limits continues to impress, and this summer 3 (yes, 3) new ice cream shops opened, among other great additions. These are among the reasons Hertel Ave. was my #1 bucket list priority this summer. So when my friend Melanie was in town last week, I suggested we head south to catch up over “dinner”:

Usually when I tweet, I expect my words to disappear into oblivion with zero recognition, so when other people clearly related, I wanted to share how amazing our meal really was. (Also, sorry for the typo. Twitter could introduce the ability to edit any time now…)

We met at Lloyd’s Taco Factory and headed straight to the bar, which had a pretty impressive list of amazing sounding cocktails (duh, what else would you expect?), along with wine and beer. Melanie went for a draft Lagunitas IPA and I chose the Gennaro’s COLDbrew, a delicious mix of cold brew coffee, tequila, cacao and Averna, topped with fresh cream and cinnamon. Cold drinks, a perfect summer night and the adorable puppy behind us on the patio made this first stop perfect.

Dinner on Hertel Ave | Buffalo | Succulents and Sunnies

With 3 new ice cream shops to choose from, heading across the street to Hertel Ave. Poutine and Cream was a difficult decision, but we’re glad that was our pick. (We’re from Lockport, so we’ve had Lake Effect since high school, and it didn’t seem fair to visit Churn after spending time at Lloyd’s. Gotta spread the love!)

Poutine and Cream has been filling my Instagram feed since opening this spring, so I had high expectations for our Freak Shake. Melanie and I split The Chocolate Mouse, described as “peanut butter-chocolate ice cream with crushed Reese’s Pieces & Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ‘ears,’ drizzled with chocolate & caramel sauce.” So yeah. There’s that.

Dinner_Hertel_Ave_1

Both shops are in perfect people-watching spots with plenty of outdoor seating for breezy summer nights. There were so many people and puppies out which highlighted how inviting this neighborhood really is. I’m crossing off this item from my summer bucket list, but I’ll definitely be back!

The Ultimate WNY Summer Bucket List

I love summer in New York and making a bucket list every summer helps me make the most of it! There are a few things on my list every year, as well as some new adventures I’ve been waiting for warmer weather to try. This year, I want to focus on exploring Western New York, instead of trying to plan a plethora of weekend trips. Buffalo is an incredible city in the summer and with more friends moving to Rochester, it makes sense to take advantage of all the (585) has to offer too!

This Summer in Buffalo:

  1. Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square
  2. Hertel Ave (Must-dos: Lake Effect’s new scoop shop, Poutine and Cream, and Lloyd’s)
  3. Silo City
  4. Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck
  5. Wilkeson Pointe
  6. Tifft Nature Preserve
  7. Erie County Botanical Gardens
  8. The Victory Gardens at Oxford Pennant (open from May 20th to July 3rd!)
  9. WNY Book Arts Center

In Rochester I Want To:

  1. Visit Rochester’s breweries
  2. Public Market
  3. Fuego Coffee
  4. Glen Edith Coffee
  5. Upper Falls
  6. Rochester Subway and Broad St Aqueduct
  7. Chimney Bluffs
  8. George Eastman Museum
  9. Highland Park

The Stuff in Between:

  1. Kayak in Oak Orchard Creek
  2. Go fishing
  3. Spring Lake Winery
  4. Chestnut Ridge Park
  5. Bike rides (although I’m going to need a bike for this 🤔)
  6. Lockport Caves
  7. Spruce Lake at Holiday Valley
  8. Go on a picnic

I’ll be documenting my bucket list progress on Instagram and would love it if you followed along! What new places are looking forward to exploring this summer? Let me know what you think I should add to my summer plans ☀️

The Answer is Yes: Made in Buffalo with Seth Godin

Buffalo was once a center for industry and innovation, and as this city moves into the future, it is also remembering that past. Don’t believe me? Then clearly you weren’t a member of the sold out crowd gathered at the Albright Knox to hear Seth Godin speak at the first event in the Buffalo Jewish Federation’s Made in Buffalo speaker series.

I was lucky enough to attend as a guest of Telesco Creative Group, who created some truly amazing deliverables for the series. I really owe the team at Telesco, especially Julia, so much. Not only for the opportunity to attend Seth’s Made in Buffalo event, but for taking a chance on a barely-out-of-college graduate who randomly emailed them and making me feel like a part of Buffalo’s growing creative community.

Seth Godin sees the world differently, and he’s really good at encouraging other people to do the same. Nothing Seth said was new in a “groundbreaking research” kind of way, but everything he shared felt exciting and fresh because of how he said it. Who else would start a marketing presentation at the Albright Knox Art Gallery with pictures of bats? No one. Why pictures of bats? Because bats look like bats, until you turn the pictures upside down, and then they look like the coolest partying animals EVER. Who even thinks like that?!

Seth Godin. The view from here.

A post shared by Greg Meadows (@_gmeadows) on

Seth does, and for an hour on Thursday night, he made 350 other people think like that too.

Seth’s focus on community, or “tribes,” is reflective not only of his Jewish heritage but of his Buffalo upbringing as well. All around the world, including Buffalo, people are flattening the bell curve. Instead of mass marketing products to the masses, successful companies are innovating products that appeal to smaller groups of people. The proof is in organizations like Instagram, Warby Parker and Chobani (all brands I LOVE, by the way), all making billions of dollars because they don’t need to appeal to everyone. Just a community of people who will become brand champions. Who needs traditional marketing when you have the power of word-of-mouth testimonies? These products and brands are “remarkable,” or “worth making a remark about.”

You can see this phenomenon in Buffalo too, as specialty shops pop up on Main Street, Hertel Ave. and Elmwood Village. Do I stop into the home goods stores? You bet, and I tell other people about them. The punk-rock jewelry shop? Maybe not, but they don’t need me, because they have their own community of brand champions.

Seth calls this take on business the connection revolution, an economy based on coordination, trust, permission, the exchange of ideas, generosity and art. Instead of products made for average people, which led to a “surplus of stuff and a shortage of attention,” there are brands for weird people, focused on interesting change for the better.

This new economy needs us to be fully present, in a way that is hard in today’s society. It needs us to act as if we won’t be judged. It needs us to live by the Italian phrase “salto mortale.” This translates literally as “deadly jump,” but Seth doesn’t want us to die, just take a risk. He’s asking us to put our emotions into our work, to innovate now. Not when we think we’re ready, because we’re never really ready (and it’s “always too soon,” but when we’re prepared.

We can’t do these things alone; we need our tribes of weird people who are just like us. When similar people connect, when they feel special and recognized, they have a power that a mass of average people can’t begin to imagine.

Seth asked us to clap slowly together, which took us around 7.5 seconds, similar to most audiences. It reminded me of something my college ballet professor would have us do: standing in a circle, eyes closed, she asked us to all jump simultaneously. No cheating with heavy breathing or moving around. Just feel each other and jump. It sounds bizarre (and very Ithaca College theater arts) until it works. And then it feels like magic. That’s the power of connected people with something in common.

Seth sums up his focus on connections with this: “People like us do things like this.” This statement is what gives brands like Harley Davidson their power (and revenue). They make millions promoting not products, but a way of life. They tell “people like us” how to “do things like this.” Harley Davidson became the leader of this group of motorcycle misfits.

Buffalo has “people like us” – both as a whole (we are the City of Good Neighbors, in good times and bad), and in our smaller tribes. We need leaders to tell us what to do, how to come together. Seth called on us to be those leaders, in a time when Buffalo is recreating itself as a better version of its past glory.

As Lenard Bernstein said, and Seth reminded us, “I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is yes.”

Keep Walking, Keep Talking

Every year, 50,000 new cases of HIV are reported and at this rate, AIDS will become the worst epidemic in human history as it claims as many as 100 million lives by 2020. HIV and AIDS affect communities around the globe, including Western New York. Let’s keep walking and keep talking in our fight for a world without HIV and AIDS!

AIDS Walk Buffalo | Keep Walking Keep Talking | Succulents and Sunnies

This year is the 25th Annual AIDS Walk Buffalo. On May 6th, walkers will gather to raise both funds and awareness in a celebration of life and strength at Hoyt Lake. The walk’s goal is to raise funds that help members of our community who live with HIV or AIDS with medical care, case management, counseling, housing assistance and nutritious meals.

Interested in participating? Learn more about walking or donating on AIDS Walk Buffalo’s website: bit.ly/AIDSWalkBFLO!

AIDS Walk Buffalo | Keep Walking Keep Talking | Succulents and Sunnies