Bienvenue à Montréal

Paige spent last week home on spring break, so we planned a quick trip to Montreal. If you live in Buffalo (or anywhere else in Upstate New York), Montreal is perfect for a long weekend getaway. While the 6 hour drive is a bit long, it’s decidedly shorter (and cheaper!) than a flight to a European city, which is what Montreal feels like.

Buffalonians know that the US dollar has a good advantage over the Canadian one at the moment. That makes right now an especially great time to visit our northern neighbors! We spent about $250 USD each for gas, food, a hotel room and a museum visit, and you could definitely spend less (or more) with a little strategic planning.

We arrived Friday afternoon after a pleasant drive and very easy border crossing. The one hiccup on this trip was the terrible condition of our Airbnb. It was a beautiful apartment and a great location, but it was about as clean as a college frat house, so that was a no-go. Sometimes Airbnb is great (like that incredible view in Costa Rica), and sometimes not so much. We packed up our bags and drove down the street to a hotel, where we were greeted by clean towels and vacuumed rugs, thank goodness. I highly recommend staying near the UQAM campus, between The Gay Village and Quartier des Spectacle, which puts you within walking distance of both downtown and Old Montreal.

By this time Friday night, all we were able to do was find a restaurant downtown and turn in early to make the most of Saturday. We were impressed by Burger Bar‘s burgers and poutine, which we paired with Guinness, because it was Saint Patrick’s Day after all!

Saturday started bright and early with a walk to Old Port to see the Clock Tower and Molson factory. We wandered through Old Montreal along Rue Notre-Dame, stopping in galleries along the way. We had planned to stop at an art museum Friday afternoon, but with the Airbnb/hotel debacle, we didn’t have time. Checking out the galleries was definitely a good (and free) substitute.

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

We also explored the Bonsecours Market and really enjoyed the exhibit at The Fashion Museum, located inside the market. Right now the museum is featuring “Blue Spectrum,” an exploration of the color blue in fashion. It only took about 20 minutes to walk through, but it was interesting and out of the cold!

For lunch we headed up a block to Rue Saint-Jacques, which definitely helped bring down the cost of a sandwich. After lunch, we walked back to the hotel to change our cold, wet socks (there was a lot of snow and ice on the sidewalks, the result of Storm Stella) and admired the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica on the way.

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Our next stop was Le Cafe des Chats, where we drank coffee (complete with kitty latte art) surrounded by 9 adopted cats. This is the kind of place you can spend hours, and we did. We took the time to write in our travel journals about the trip thus far, pet cats and take pictures of cats. It was great and I highly recommend adding it (or another of Montreal’s cat cafes) to any Montreal itinerary!

Next, we found our way past McGill University and up the hill to Chalet du Mont-Royal, which provides an excellent view of the entire city and the St. Lawrence river beyond it. We made it just as the sun was setting, and were glad for the extra hour of light that daylight savings time the weekend prior gave us. The snow made hiking tough, but the view was worth it!

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

We walked downtown for dinner and drinks at Parma Cafe and Fiddler’s Green Pub, respectively. The Cafe was adorable, with a menu of pizza, pasta, soup and salads, along with coffee and wine. Fiddler’s Green was a relaxed Irish pub we felt right at home in, with both Guinness and local brews on tap and hockey on the flat screens. It was a welcome break from some of the more uppity restaurants we’d walked by and eaten in.

Sunday morning we had brunch at the most adorable bistro/home goods store I’ve ever laid eyes on. Le Magasin General du Viex is in Old Montreal, right across the street from the science museum. Both the atmosphere and the food were top-notch. If either Paige or I had a home to decorate, we would have bought out the store. I almost did anyway! *Stay tuned, because there’s a whole blog post coming on Le Magasin General du Viex.

Bienvenue a Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Both Paige and I are so excited to go back to Montreal in warmer weather. There are a few things we didn’t get to do, but are definitely on the list for next time, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Centre d’Histoire de Montreal, Botanical Garden, Hotel de Ville (City Hall), Underground City and going into the Basilica.

A Winter Wonderland

Winter finally arrived in Western New York today. Here in Niagara County, snow totals are fast approaching 18 inches and the snow is showing no signs of stopping. We haven’t had this much snow in a long time, so of course the first thing I did when I got home was cover my camera in a plastic bag and throw on the Bean Boots for a little trek around the yard.

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Thinking Spring 🐥

The weather has dipped back into the teens, but our early taste of balmy weather has me thinking spring! I love the refreshed feeling that comes with the rainy, warming weather of April and May. There are so many parts of spring that make me happy, from the chicks at Tractor Supply to the days warm enough to take a run in shorts.

Buffalo has so many great restaurants with rooftop patios and outdoor seating that goes to waste for half the year. The first weekend that outdoor tables are set feels like a city-wide party filled with string lights and gorgeous sunsets. This spring, I’m excited to enjoy the patios at Templeton Landing, Deep South Taco and A. B. V.

Last Wednesday I stopped at Tractor Supply solely to check on the chick situation. There weren’t any chicks yet, which meant the time I spent on the drive there crafting an Instagram caption was for naught. But lucky for me and my springtime obsessions with all cute little animals (baby cows, baby bunnies and baby goats 😍), Tractor Supply is both on the way home from work and right next to the gym!

Warmer weather makes me want to never step foot on a treadmill again. I can’t wait until a few miles on the canal doesn’t leave my nose feeling like it’s going to fall off. I know Murphy is excited for days that stay lighter longer so he gets a walk more than once a week. The first few weeks of open windows, open barn doors and no winter coat are always welcome, especially in Buffalo.

Succulents_and_Sunnies_Thinking_Spring_Murphy

While some parts of spring cleaning aren’t so fun, I love taking everything off the shelves to dust and putting photos, books and keepsakes back in a completely new way. I stopped at Target yesterday for face wash and walked out with half the homeware department, I swear. I then spent hours changing out stacks of books and frames. My next step is printing new images for all these frames; currently, I’m looking at a cute child I’ve never seen before eating a dripping ice cream cone.

What are your favorite parts of the new season? Let me know in the comments below! 👇

27 Thoughts You Have While Watching Gilmore Girls for the First Time in 2017

I somehow escaped the first decade of the 2000s without watching a single episode of Gilmore Girls. With all the hype about Netflix’s revival this fall, I wanted to see what all the buzz was about, which meant I had to watch the seven seasons of the original series first. It was as good as everyone made it out to be, but watching the show in 2017 prompted some thoughts that definitely wouldn’t have occurred to me in 2005:

  1. Were bell sleeves really this popular? I haven’t seen a bell sleeve in a very long time.
  2. Same goes for sling back kitten heels.
  3. I almost forgot George W. was a president, until Rory’s “Give Bush a Wedgie” t-shirt. That brought back memories.
  4. How are alllll of Rory’s boyfriends so attractive? I probably would have had this thought in 2007 also, but still worth mentioning.
  5. On that note, watching both Gilmore Girls and This Is Us at the same time is weird. In the best way.
  6. I wish I could tell the high school Paris and Rory that Hillary Clinton is the powerhouse you look up to and more.
  7. A Drop it Like a it’s Hot reference. Wow.
  8. Oh, and a Wisteria Lane reference for Luke’s dramatics.
  9. The amount of food these people eat is incredible. I love it.
  10. How did people watch this one week at a time? Or wait between seasons?
  11. The 90s neon swishy suit disappeared for a reason.
  12. A skinny scarf for every outfit!
  13. If Rory knew she was supporting the future campaign of Donald Trump, she would never have went to his casino for her 21st birthday.
  14. Mental health jokes were wayyy more socially acceptable 10 years ago.
  15. Product placement was in its infancy 10 years ago.
  16. How do you survive college without social media?!
  17. Hurricane Katrina was a real doozy.
  18. Everyone had a Pontiac Sunfire, in Gilmore Girls and in real life.
  19. Also bangs. They’re everywhere in 2006.
  20. Melissa McCarthy is an absolute gem.
  21. A gem who wears Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker. You can’t get any better.
  22. Logan’s new website is like MySpace – that’s no longer a good thing.
  23. So many Britney Spears as a troubled mom references. She turns out okay guys!
  24. Snakes on a Plane was a movie people saw on dates. Why?
  25. Why are legwarmers part of Loreli’s outfit? That never should have been a thing.
  26. Logan’s belt is buckled on the side. I forgot we all did that, for years.
  27. Rory’s job on the campaign trail will take a while. Obama turns out pretty awesome.

The bonus of watching Gilmore Girls in 2017? I didn’t have to wait to watch A Year in the Life. Season 7, Episode 22 and all four episodes of the revival all in one night. And now:

Image courtesy of Spoiler TV.

9 Essentials for Surviving an Upstate Winter

Winter in Western New York can be unforgiving, to say the least. Weeks upon weeks of scraping ice off your car, wearing so many layers you’re mistaken for a snowman and being almost certain you’ll never feel your toes again. It’s slightly ironic to be writing this now, because it’s been 55° for two days in a row. But trust me, it was snowing four days ago.

Because winter is harsh, both physically and mentally, people here in colder climates have tricks to make it through. I want to share some of my favorite winter pick-me-ups that helped me through the season this year:

  1. A new loose leaf tea infuser and the amazing salted caramel pumpkin tea from Wegmans. My sister gifted me with the infuser and a wonderful collection of loose leaf tea that I’ve been savoring all winter. I never would have gotten this for myself, but I love it! Also, Wegmans for the win (as per usual), because this tea is just as delicious as the expensive specialty stores.
  2. Anyone who knows me knows that I wear my plaid Joy Susan blanket scarf daily from October to March. This thing is so cozy and makes me looked pulled together with minimal effort. And when the heat at work is making less effort than would be ideal, this scarf really is blanket-sized.
  3. My new Warby Parker glasses are cute, affordable and come with better customer service than my local eye doctor. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with the company, both via email and in person. In the dead of winter, a positive experience (especially when it has the potential to be not so great) is a wonderful thing.
  4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is an inspiring read, even when you only have time for a chapter. I actually read a few excerpts for a class my last semester at Ithaca, which prompted me to add the book to my Christmas list this year. I’m not done yet, but I’ve been pairing a few pages with my eggs every morning, and I highly recommend it.
  5. For anyone who lives in the cold and doesn’t want to spend every weekend skating or skiing, getting out of the cold is a must. This is why my passport is a winter essential. This year Cody and I escaped to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, which I highly recommend. If you haven’t already, check out my travel diary of the trip!
  6. I almost never buy candles for myself, but my friend held a Yankee Candle fundraiser this fall so I splurged and bought “Autumn Wreath,” which smells exactly like you might imagine. Fall is my favorite season, so bringing the scent of apple, green leaf and cinnamon into the winter months makes me happy.
  7. My skin does not like the dry air of a Buffalo winter, so any product that makes it a little happier is a good investment. This year, I’m loving Lush’s Aqua Marina face and body cleanser. It’s a clay-based product that soothes skin with aloe, seaweed and calamine. One note of caution – the seaweed gets EVERYWHERE, so you might be washing your shower curtain more often than usual.
  8. Also from Lush is the alcohol-free Breath of Fresh Air toner, which includes sea water, aloe vera gel and rose absolute. It’s a great follow up to an exfoliating face wash and I feel like it gets that extra layer of grime off while also refreshing my wind-whipped face.
  9. Cody got me a subscription to Magnolia Journal for Christmas, which is further fueling my love for the work of Joanna Gaines. Politics aside, I think she is an incredibly talented designer who creates beautiful homes, businesses and publications. Plus, it’s already spring in Texas, and the latest issue is packed full of warm-weather plants, clothes, design and more.

 

My Favorite Things: Super Bowl 2017

  1. Born The Hard Way

This year’s Budweiser Super Bowl ad is a beautiful story of immigration and hard work. I’m slightly upset that this is not a true story, which I learned during the AAF Uber Bowl VII. Regardless of this, the imagery is a stunning collection of video that speaks volumes in the current political climate. And, I would have missed the Clydesdales, except for the fact that Budweiser WENT LIVE on Facebook with the famous horses. I do still miss the puppies though…

  1. #WeAccept

While many are unimpressed with this anti-discrimination messaging, stating that Airbnb is not practicing what they preach, I love the ad. The use of still black and white photography paints a beautiful picture that was visually very stunning and caught my eye immediately.

  1. Chicken Wing Dip

Is it a part without chicken wing dip? I think not. Something about this combination on chicken, blue cheese, ranch and hot sauce is so much greater than the sum of its parts.

  1. Blondie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I don’t know what goes into these, but they are incredible. Apparently they use tahini instead of peanut butter and it was very complimentary to the ice cream. 12/10 I need this recipe.

  1. Daughter

This year’s Audi Super Bowl commercial tugs at the heartstrings. As a woman who just joined the workforce I’m so sensitive to the fact that I probably won’t make as much the guy I sat next to at graduation last spring. Audi captured all the hope I feel for the future, while promising steps to get there. I respect the way Audi shared this story, and it was beautiful imagery too.

  1. Jentleman

This combination of Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake monologuing Bye Bye Bye was by far the most hysterical commercial of the night. This commercial had everything: star power (with multi-generational appeal), 90s revival, humor and a health benefit. You can’t check more boxes than that!

  1. Ellicottville Blueberry Wheat Ale

This stuff is delicious! I could add it to any occasion and it would be perfect. A little blueberry, but not too much. And it goes great with chicken wing dip (see number 3).

  1. Julio Jones

And because you can’t write a blog post about football without one sentence about football, how about Julio Jones? Those catches were incredible!

Inspired by Coffee ☕

This image from Steamworks, which I first posted on Instagram, was picked to be part of last week’s Step Out Buffalo Project #HashtagStepOutBuffalo roundup. I love these roundups and I am so honored to be a part of this amazing collection of local photos!

This isn’t the first time I’m mentioning Steamworks, the new cafe in Lockport. I highly recommend a trip there for an afternoon of coffee and board games! Unfortunately, I can only recommend the pour over brews, because they’re so good I haven’t tried anything else.

Last week, I discovered #MoodBoardMonday, which I cannot believe I didn’t know existed before now. I love, love love mood boards, but I haven’t had a chance to work on any branding projects lately. The discovery of this hashtag made me miss the inspiration I always sense when putting together the perfect feel for a new project.

Who says you need a real project to get inspired? Not me! I’m using the cozy, steampunk feel of the coffee shop to guide this collection of images, colors and textures.

I love the comforting, homey textures of the wood grain and coffee stains paired with the edgier, technicolor rust that is at the same time natural and otherworldly. The burlap coffee bags and soothing watercolors add rustic touches. The smooth white coffee cups and carafes, along with the sleek keyboards and cameras of the shop’s patrons finish off the space into a symbiotic collection of textures and colors that leaves me inspired.