Lumagination is Buffalo’s Most Instagrammable Location Right Now

The Buffalo Botanical Gardens are somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and just never made it to. The photos flooding my Instagram feed from Lumagination the last few weeks only added to how much I wanted to go!

During a few weeks each winter, the Botanical Gardens transforms at night into a multicolored light show that seems almost otherworldly. When Briana suggested to a couple of fellow bloggers that we should check it out, I immediately agreed.

We took about a million photos of each other surrounded by twinkle lights, laser beams and illuminated laterns. Each exhibit seemed like it would provide the most Instagrammable backdrop, until we walked through the door into the next room.

Take a peak at some of my favorite shots from the night:

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

3 Independent Bookstores in Buffalo Everyone Should Visit

If you happened to read my post on spending a morning in Hamburg, you met Julia. She’s a social media strategizing, vlogging, yoga-ing ball of energy. Earlier this fall, we met to collaborate again, this time checking out a few independent book stores around the city.

We decided on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of November, which did limit our bookstore selection some. Notably, Second Reader Book Shop doesn’t have Sunday hours.

After a few days of research and emails back and forth, we settled on Westside Stories Used Books, Rust Belt Books and Talking Leaves Books. All are located pretty close to each other, and we even walked to Rust Belt Books from Westside Stories.

Westside Stories Used Books

205 Grant Street
Our first stop was Westside Stories, which is conveniently located right across the street from Sweetness 7 Cafe. I can tell you from experience that a London Fog goes really well with sifting through used books.

This was probably my favorite out of the 3 shops we visited. The sunny exterior (thanks to a recent face lift by Casey William Milbrand) greets guests, along with a reading statue and well-worn rocking horse.

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Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

The piles of books inside look overwhelming, but they’re very well organized. I saw everything from gilded covers on classics to health and wellness guides to a very comprehensive collection of books on Buffalo’s history. I found a copy of The Amateur Emigrant by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I am very excited to read.

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Rust Belt Books

415 Grant Street
You can walk from Westside Stories to Rust Belt Books, and the weather was nice enough to make the walk pretty enjoyable. This shop is home to a fat cat who loved on us while we browsed. If you love history, you’ll enjoy spending some time poking around the shelves here, as well as library card catalog drawers repurposed to hold knick knacks collected over the last 7 decades.

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Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Rust Belt Books is home to a large room, which holds performances, readings and Tuesday morning meditation (you can find more details on this on the website, linked above). I’ve never found a place in Buffalo that felt more like Ithaca than this shop. I took home a (mostly) vegetarian cook book that has already proven delicious.

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Talking Leaves Books

951 Elmwood Avenue
Our last stop was Talking Leaves, which is the only new book store on this list. If you’re looking for the latest release or local gifts, this one is for you. It’s also on Elmwood, so it’s convenient to stop after brunch or some shopping. This was obvious from the number of people browsing on the Sunday afternoon we visited.

Here, I bought a guide to upstate NY road trips, which I paired with a NYS Parks pass for my parents’ Christmas gift.

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

To hear more about our cozy day of bookstore hopping, check out Julia’s vlog!

Making the Most of Winter in Lockport

If you follow me (or Step Out Buffalo) on Instagram, you know that I took over the Step Out Buffalo Instagram and Snapchat accounts for a few hours last week to show off some of my favorite places in Lockport. The sun was shining and temperatures were just above freezing, so it was a great day to feature the best ways to make the most of a winter afternoon!

If you didn’t follow along or want more details on one of the places I visited, keep reading:

After showing off the flight of 5 locks (the reason for Lockport’s name) in downtown Lockport, I stopped in to Steamworks Coffee to fuel up for my adventures. I’m a regular at Steamworks because it’s a great space to write blog posts and work on freelance assignments. The coffee is delicious, the space is so welcoming and there are plenty of outlets!

Winter in Lockport, NY | Step Out Buffalo Takeover

Next up was Julie Muscato Gifts, the cutest shop filled with a card and gift for every occasion. I could have easily bought one of everything…

Because this girl can only go 5 minutes without getting hungry, I stopped at Scripts Cafe for a tea and scone. I can highly recommend the London Fog scone; it was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up before heading to my next stop. I should also mention that the decor in here is amazing, as it was assembled by the aforementioned Julie Muscato.

On the way to the Lockport Nature Trail, I made a small pit stop to snap a picture of the frozen canal and hazy late-afternoon sun, which is the very first photo of this post. Lockport was sure looking pretty for my winter afternoon adventure.

At the Nature Trail, my favorite part is definitely the little waterfall, and it didn’t disappoint. The majority of the water was frozen, but you could hear the creek rushing below the ice thanks to warmer temperatures earlier in the day.

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Last, but certainly not least, was Tattered Tulip. Everything is so darn cute, and there is a set of throw pillows that I’m trying very hard not to think about… Anyway, this was the perfect spot to finish up my afternoon.

The order I visited each stop in worked out perfectly, but I highly recommend spending more time than I did exploring Lockport. I had a great time showing Buffalo around Lockport, and hope that if you watched my Stories you enjoyed them too!

Pre-Holiday Pizza at Hearth + Press

Making new friends is not my strong suit. Even as a kid, I’d wait for someone else to invite me over to play at their house instead of asking them. I never took the Myers-Briggs test because I know exactly what it’s going to say. I’m happy to spend Friday nights in and am perfectly content to explore new places solo.

This particular trait makes networking, both personally and professionally, one of the more exhausting tasks I’ve attempted since moving home. Because of this, I’m grateful for extroverts who take it upon themselves to follow up after I’ve awkwardly inserted myself into a group at an event.

Thanks to the initiative of other, braver, individuals, I recently found myself at dinner after work during the week before Christmas with a few fellow bloggers. We checked out Hearth + Press on Main Street downtown. Getting to know each other over thin crust pizza and drinks were just what we all needed to combat the stress of the holidays.

Hearth + Press | Buffalo, NY Pizza

Hearth + Press | Buffalo, NY Pizza

And if you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, we all recommend Hearth + Press. It’s a tad pricey (for us 20-somethings, at any rate), but the stone hearth pizza was fresh and crispy!

34 Buffalo-Made Gifts for Your Christmas List

Alpine Made
Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap – $8.94
Pretty and practical, pair this Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap with a soap dish or other cute bathroom accessories for grandma or aunts.

Aléthea’s Chocolates
Sponge Candy – $21.95
Choose light, dark or a mix of both. Does this need any more explanation?

Locally Made Baked Goods
Try Schwab’s, Becker Farms, Butter Block, Breadhive, Ohlson’s Bakery, or my personal favorite, The Bread Basket. Cookies, pies and cupcakes are always welcome at the holiday table!

Banky Girl Creations
Team Pizza and Wings Tee – $25.95
What Buffalo girl isn’t a fan of pizza and wings?

Blue Table Chocolates
4 Month, 12 Piece Subscription – $60
Every month, Blue Table Chocolates will send “a variety of flavors, including [the] special flavor of the month” to the chocolate-lovers on your list. Who won’t love this gift?!

Born in Buffalo
BFLO Beer Taps – $21.99
No Buffalo beer lover’s wardrobe is complete without one of these BFLO Beer Tap t-shirts.

Buffalo Beer Mug Co.
Growler Cleveland – $7.50
While you may not know too many history lovers who are also beer fanatics (or beer lovers who are also history fanatics), this is the gift for them.

Buffalo Canvas
Canvases and Custom Framing
Create an ultra-personalized gift with a oversize canvas or custom framed print. The folks at Buffalo Canvas can turn your images into pretty much anything you can imagine!

Buffalo Made Co.
Buffalo Made Flag Print – $10.00 to $24.00
This simple artwork is perfect for Buffalovers and it looks great with or without a frame!

Buffalo Outdoors
Button-Up Long Sleeve Textured Henley Shirt – $12.99
This classic Henley comes in 7 colors, perfect for the practical guys on your list.

Buffalovely
Trump Can Eff the Eff Off Mug – $14
For your friends who are having a hard time adjusting to the current administration.

C Designs
Home Sweet Home Card – $4.50
Frame literally any of C Designs’ cards for a cute collection of accents perfect for a kitchen or bathroom!

Christopher Hyzy
B is for Buffalo – $29.95 (hardcover)
Christopher Hyzy’s book of gorgeous aerial photography was available last Christmas, but if it’s not on the coffee table already, it should be.

Fern Croft
Small Arrangement – $55
Not every gift needs to last forever. Make your Christmas host’s day with a fresh flower arrangement that arrives just before guests.

In The Buff 716
Christmas Ornaments – $11.99
If your wrapping paper and ribbon is just as important to you as what’s inside, consider topping packages with these metal Buffalo ornaments.

Indie Twenty
Onyx Triangle Necklace – $23.00
This necklace is perfect for jazzing up basics throughout the rest of the winter, and everyone from coworkers to nieces will appreciate it.

Inspired Buffalo
Blue Whale Pillow by Michael Clarke – $29 to $43
This throw pillow is the perfect accent for a beachy living room or nautical lake house.

Jess C Jewelry
BUFFAL❄VE Necklace
You can find this necklace (and tons of other adorable Buffalo jewelry) at local shops, or contact jesscjewelry@gmail.com.

Keng Creations
Beam Candle Holder – $40
Add this candle holder to a mantle or centerpiece for a natural accent that isn’t too rustic.

Kitch Studios
Christmas Tea Towel – $11
Pair a cute tea towel with gourmet cookies, a bottle of wine or homemade jelly and you have an easy, affordable gift.

LaCott Fine Art
Elephant Print
Laura’s alcohol ink elephants are gorgeous and will make any animal lover smile. Find her at various maker fairs and festivals this season to pick out the perfect one.

Niagara County Produce
Hot Pepper Relish
Pair this unique condiment with a tea towel for the perfect office gift.

Nickel City String Art
Cactus String Art – $20
Do you have a friend who likes plants but can’t keep them alive? This is for them.

Oxford Pennant
Get Lost Pennant – $25
This wanderlust-inspiring pennant is at the top of my Christmas list. Literally any of Oxford Pennant’s wares make great gifts.

Papercraft Miracles
Blueberry Muffin Stationary Set – $5.00
Stuff stockings with this adorable stationary set or get a few for an easy Secret Santa gift.

Pencil Sketch Paper
Buffalo Stampede Wrapping Paper – $15
Wrap your gifts in this, and frame the extras for other Buffalo fans.

Pretty + Grit
Balance Double Ring – $45
This double ring from brand-new Pretty + Grit is simple, but not too simple.

Rise Collaborative
“You Belong” Sweatshirt – $34 to $48
When you buy this super cute sweatshirt (which also shares a really powerful message), you can choose to donate either a hat or a sweatshirt to Buffalo’s growing refugee population. These sweatshirts are preorder only, so head over to Rise’s website by 11/29.

Rosie Furniture & Lighting
Rosie Idea Box
Find the folks from Rosie at Yuletide in the Country on December 2nd and 3rd to shop their entire collection.

Sadler Garden Collections
Planter with Cameo Cutout – $35.99
These planters are an upgrade from the typical hanging basket that gardeners will put to good use come spring.

Silo City Art
Autumn On The Lake: Original Watercolor Painting by Jill Carere – $65.00
Add to an art aficionado’s collection without breaking the bank.

Three Stories Coffee
Burundi Single Origin 12 oz – $14
This new coffee roaster has tons of options to choose from, with every variety available in light or dark roast as well as whole bean or ground.

Wild Skin Cares
The Basic Box (includes Day Oil, Hydrating Cleanser and Facial Toner) – $61.20
Spoil your mom or your girlfriends with this luxurious skin care kit. All you have to do is pick the skin type of your recipient and Wild Skin Cares does the rest.

Wood by Bri
Buffalo Business Card Holder – $18
Know a recent college grad who loves Buffalo? Order them this cool wood business card holder.

A Rainy Day at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff

While history was never my favorite subject in school, Buffalo’s industrious past and the extravagant wealth that came with it would have to try pretty hard not to be interesting. This wealth brought some of history’s most talented artists, designers, architects and more to this city. Fortunately, Buffalo’s current renaissance is helping our city and state realize these gems of the past are worth restoring. Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces here are some of the latest landmarks to receive this well-deserved and long-awaited treatment.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Paige and I gifted my dad with tour tickets to Graycliff for his birthday last year. It took Paige planning a move to Boston (😢) to actually schedule a tour. We took the basic tour, which is an hour and 15 minutes long, for $18 each ($12 for students!) and it was definitely in-depth enough for the casual visitor. You can buy tickets online or once you arrive at the estate.

The tour starts at the gift shop, of course, where your tour guide will give you some background on Frank Lloyd Wright, Buffalo at the time when the Martins were designing this house and the Martins themselves. Graycliff is a bit of a sister home to the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, as it served as the summer home for the Martin family.

Even on a rainy fall day, you can see why Wright took so much inspiration from this lakefront property. The horizon, visible both through and around the home, is imitated in the lines of the home, and the natural materials of the home are the same as the earth beneath it. The stone is tichenor limestone, unique due to its rusting iron content and noticeable fossils.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

The exterior of Graycliff is almost completely restored, and the interior is coming together as grants and donations are secured. Lots of original details are still in tact inside, including a fire hose on the second floor, a huge stone fireplace and a greenhouse-like room filled with ferns.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

A_Rainy_Day_at_Frank_Lloyd_Wright_Graycliff_1

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Because there were only 5 of us on the tour, our guide took us through the majority of the home, even on the basic tour. She took time to share the Martins’ story, the history of the home after the Martins were no longer able to afford to maintain it, and the big picture regarding Wright’s life as an architect.

The garage, which once held the Martins’ 4 cars and driver’s living quarters, now serves as a workspace for the restoration of the home. There’s also a Pierce Arrow car, similar to one which the Martins would have traveled in, on loan from the Pierce Arrow Museum.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff | Martin's Summer Home | Derby, NY

This tour was informative and interesting; they did a great job putting a narrative into history. And our tour guide asked me and Paige at the end if we had all the pictures we needed, which is basically a blogger’s dream come true. Graycliff is definitely worth the drive and the price of admission, no matter how much you think you like or dislike history!

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall

Fall is such a delicious time of year, and the seasonal beers from local breweries are no exception. Apple, cinnamon and pumpkin make for a great addition to the bar as well as the dessert table.

If you’re looking for a new Buffalo beer to try this fall, check out these 3 tasty brews:

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Southern Tier Brewing Co. Cold Press Coffee Pumking

1. Southern Tier Brewing Co. Cold Press Coffee Pumking

STBC’s Pumking is a autumn staple. Last year I enjoyed Rum Barrel Aged Pumking, so this fall I tried the cold press coffee variation of the beer. The cold press coffee and pumpkin spice mix to create what pretty much tastes like a pumpkin spice latte in beer form. What’s not to love?

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Big Ditch Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale

2. Big Ditch Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale

Big Ditch seasonals are always delicious, and this fall’s Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale is no exception. You have to like cinnamon and allspice to enjoy this beer, because it is seriously spiced. It’s also not as sweet as you might expect from a beer made with local apple cider, which I enjoyed. If you’re looking for fall in a can (yep, it comes in a can!), look no further.

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Hamburg Brewing Company 550 Game Time

3 Buffalo Beers to Try this Fall | Hamburg Brewing Company 550 Game Time

3. Hamburg Brewing Company 550 Game Time

Fall wouldn’t be the same without listening to the Bills’ game on WGR on Sunday. Hamburg Brewing Company captured all those game day vibes in their American Pale Ale, 550 Game Time. This is nothing fancy, but neither is Buffalo, and I thought this tasted pretty good!