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

medina-ny-day-of-the-dead-2018-2-min

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.

A Day on the Lake with Brookdog Fishing Co.

I used to love fishing with my dad and sister from the dock on Keuka Lake or sitting on the bank of the Erie Canal waiting patiently to catch little sunfish. We never caught more than a couple of little guys; it didn’t matter, I liked being outside, hanging out with Paige and Dad waiting for a nibble. There was one time that I caught a (slightly) bigger fish, but in our battle over the bait, the fish won and my pole went sailing into the Canal.

In the last few years, we haven’t fished nearly as often as we used to, so Paige and I thought a fishing charter might be an awesome way to spend an afternoon together with Dad. Brookdog Fishing Co. graciously hosted our novice group (well, Dad knows what he’s doing but Paige and I were a little rusty) for an afternoon on Lake Erie with guide Ryan.

We had low expectations, primed by our years on the Canal, but even if we had way higher expectations, Ryan would have beat them. I was excited about being in the water in the middle of a rare string of 90° days in Buffalo; catching a fish or two would have been icing on the cake.

That, simply, is not Ryan’s style. He’s all about putting his clients where the fish are and making sure we have everything necessary to catch them. We launched into the Niagara River, but crowded waters made the River un-fishable. Instead, we took a quick ride into Lake Erie and fished a few different spots, starting further out in the water and then moving towards the harbor as boaters headed in for the evening.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog takes care of everything: poles, bait, baiting, unhooking, photos and bottles of water on ice. While we opted for a half-day trip on Lake Erie, Brookdog offers a ton of options, from year-round walk and wade fly fishing to multi-day charters in the region’s bigger bodies of water. Ryan’s boat is gorgeous and a really comfortable place to spend the day.

As we headed out towards the Lake, Ryan let us know what the game plan was. First, we’d find a good spot, and then we’d start fishing and shooting the shit (his words, not mine). This made me a little nervous, because he was talking to three people who are very good at sitting in silence with each other. Mom takes care of all our family’s small talk.

It turns out I was worried for nothing, because Ryan can talk about anything with anyone and he knows so much about fishing, running a small business, doing what you love and the Buffalo Niagara region that he’s willing to share. He’s fished in Buffalo forever, traveled around the world catching fish and is currently on a mission to fly fish every state in the US before turning 50.

Brookdog’s guides (Ryan, as well as his friend and business partner Nate) focus on native species, and the fish we caught in Lake Erie (smallmouth bass and freshwater drum or sheepshead) have been here for thousands of years. We caught a pretty even mix of the two using live bait, and Paige got a gorgeous white bass as well.

We didn’t look as cool as Ryan and Nate do summer fly fishing in the Niagara River and Lake Erie, but we can pretend. Also, what’s a girl gotta do to get one of those Brookdog shirts?

In our five or so hours on the water, Dad won the prize for the most fish, as well as the smallest fish. I took home the prize of the biggest fish. Paige may have only gotten two, but her patience paid off, because they were the two prettiest fish of the day.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

I went to bed feeling like I was still bobbing up and down with the lake, and woke up the next morning a little sunburned and sore (those fish are serious fighters), but that’s just the sign of a really good day on the water.

If you’re feeling like booking a trip of your own with Brookdog Fishing Co., and you should, you can do that here: https://www.brookdogfishing.com/book-fishing-trip/.

Ryan guides Buffalonians and tourists of all fishing abilities year-round, so don’t worry if your summer is already packed. He assured us that catching salmon in the fall is also pretty cool.

I received a complimentary trip with Brookdog Fishing Co. in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.

Visit UB’s Anderson Gallery for Cool Collections and Interesting Spaces

I don’t take advantage of Buffalo’s amazing art and architecture nearly as often as I should. When the Buffalo Bloggers met at UB’s Anderson Gallery last month, it seemed like a good way to add a little culture to my week. It was, in fact, the perfect mix of unique art and interesting space for a Tuesday after work.

The gallery is on the smaller size and you won’t find the same well-known artists that call the Burchfield Penney Art Center and Albright–Knox Art Gallery home, but this is a cool collection of lesser-known, but no less interesting, artists’ works. Plus, it’s completely free to visit!

BRACHA: Pietà – Eurydice – Medus

UB Anderson Gallery | Bracha

UB Anderson Gallery | Bracha

I loved how this collection looked as a whole. The groupings of pieces within the gallery’s curved walls were lovely. These works of art represent “themes of loss, love and trauma within the context of the atrocities of war and traces of memory of the tragedy of the Holocaust.” You can feel the darkness of this exhibit, which is a stark contrast to the much lighter, brighter spaces on the second floor of the gallery.

Claire Falkenstein: Time Elements

UB Anderson Gallery | Claire Falkenstein

I enjoyed this exhibit most, not only for the interesting shapes within the art, but for how well it fit the sun-soaked second floor space it filled. The “work fundamentally expresses movement in space through a specific vocabulary,” which made this exhibit the perfect place for casual conversation and snacks.

Also on display are Cravens Collection, Team Razor Wire’s Electric Avenue [In Blue] and virocode: No Plan for the Future. I highly recommend spending a blissfully cultured (and air conditioned) hour at the Gallery this summer. Its North Buffalo location is close to Delaware Park and Hertel Ave., so you can easily make a stop on your way to dinner or drinks from the Northtowns!