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.

Tamales and Tequila for Day of the Dead

Medina is getting cooler by the day, from the annual Farm to Table Dinner to the renovations and other goings on at Mustang City. One of my favorite Medina staples is the annual Day of the Dead celebration at Mariachi de Oro. Over the last few years, the restaurant brought traditional Oaxacan food, drink and music, along with a marigold-topped ofrenda, to a small crowd gathered at the restaurant. This year, Mariachi de Oro recruited the help of multiple other Medina businesses to bring the celebration to the entire town.

The party started with crafts, snacks and stories at Main Street businesses. Cody and I weren’t able to make it to Medina for this part of the celebration. We arrived on Main Street late enough to find a parking spot but still in time for hot tamales. A party tent protected the second half of the festivities from the rain. We walked into the tent and were immediately greeted by a lively celebration.

The tent housed a huge ofrenda, community alter, sand painting by artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta, delicious food and dance-worthy mariachi music. As per usual, the tamales lived up to our incredibly high expectations. To be honest, they were one of the biggest reasons we drove an hour in the pouring rain to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

Mariachi Band Zelaya at Day of the Dead, Medina, NY

Sand Painting at Day of the Dead, Medina, NY

After taking in mariachi band Zelaya and colorful, swirling skirts of dancing family members, we headed to Shirt Factory Cafe to sample their Day of the Dead menu. I’m not a huge tequila fan, but I am up for almost anything in the name of a cultural experience. My cucumber-tequila concoction and a flight of 123 Organic Tequila gave me a new appreciation for the liquor.

Day of the Dead at Shirt Factory Cafe

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We ended our night out with huge slices of pizza at Avanti, which is definitely not Mexican but is incredibly Medinian.

My Favorite Sunday Funday this Summer

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect summertime Sunday Funday. For some, it’s a wine tour, or an hours-long brunch, or enough time and energy to deep clean the kitchen. While I love all of those things, they aren’t my idea of the perfect Sunday.

This summer, my favorite Sunday caught me by surprise. Everything about it was last minute, which made it that much more special.

AHTC’s Summer Sizzler

Getting up at 5:30 am probably isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but I’m willing to wake up just about any time of day for horses. I just never outgrew the horse-crazy phase. On this particular Sunday, I arrived at a (super duper casual) horse show at 6:30 am with zero expectations.

I rode possibly the sweetest, prettiest paint, Trent, who I’ve come to love but didn’t really know all that well a few months ago. The weather was perfect, my parents stopped by to see us ride and our performance wasn’t too shabby either. It also doesn’t hurt that Trent receives a compliment about how cute he is approximately once every three minutes. I know they’re not talking about me, but positive energy is positive energy.

Trent at AHTC's Summer Sizzler

Buffalo Brewing Company

After the show, I headed home way earlier than I thought I would. Cody and I couldn’t let the rest of what had turned into a beautiful day get away from us. We’re slowly getting to every brewery in Buffalo and decided to check another off the list. This time, we opted for Buffalo Brewing Company.

Beer garden at Buffalo Brewing Company

1842 Vienna Lager at Buffalo Brewing Company

Their small tasting room and shaded outdoor space offered a lovely breeze that kept us comfortable. We ordered inside before claiming a spot in two of the beer garden’s Adirondack chairs. The tap room was out of the 1856 Cran-Raz Wheat, so I went with a pint of the 1842 Vienna Lager. Cody chose a couple of the brewery’s IPAs, as per usual. All were good! I loved how each beer’s name commemorated an event in Buffalo’s history, reminding me of how LyonSmith incorporates English history into their beers’ names.

Outer Harbor

Until this particular Sunday Funday, I had never been to the Outer Harbor. Terrible, I know. After a couple of beers, we hopped on the Skyway for a nice pre-dinner bike ride on the Wellness Trail. Because of construction, the trail is currently a little short, but there are plenty of ways to bike around the peninsula.

Bike ride on the Outer Harbor Wellness Trail

Wind sculpture at Wilkeson Pointe

The fresh air, the unexpected nature of the day and dinner on the grill when we got home made this, hands down, one of my favorite days this summer. It wasn’t super special, but it included so many of the things I love about Buffalo and life, all wrapped up under a cloudless blue sky.