Savoring September at Spring Lake Winery

Not going to lie, I was not very successful in completing my summer bucket list this year. One item I did get to check off was Spring Lake Winery, fitting it in right at the end of the season! Paige and I spent a couple of hours here on a sunny Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, tasting, wandering the property and watching them set up for the first of 3 weddings that weekend.

We walked in and were promptly greeted by friendly staff who walked us through our tasting, which included Zia Minx, their slightly carbonated moscato that won best white wine at this year’s Taste of Buffalo. I don’t particularly like wine, but this was so yummy!

Wine tasting at Spring Lake Winery, Lockport NY

Spring Lake Winery is on a gorgeous property, as most wineries are. There really is a small lake, and it’s encouraged that you take your glass of wine with you as you explore the trails around the lake. Obviously you didn’t need to tell us this twice; we explored the trails and vineyards before heading inside for a refill.

I went for a glass of wine, because “When in Rome” and all that jazz. Paige chose an Ellicotville Blueberry Wheat, because we really are beer people. We were both pretty impressed with the beer selection.

Wine tasting at Spring Lake Winery, Lockport NY

Wine tasting at Spring Lake Winery, Lockport NY

For us, this is the closest winery to home, so we’ll definitely be back!

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!

Cheers to the Weekend at 12 Gates Brewing Company

I’m not going to lie, when Google Maps told Cody and I we had arrived at 12 Gates Brewing Company, I thought Google was experiencing a glitch. That was the only reason I could think of that would explain why we were looking at the entrance of an industrial complex just minutes from the Buffalo Airport. After double checking the address with the brewery website, we turned into the parking lot and followed the signs to the back of the complex, where the brewery did in fact await us.

Cody and I were looking for a new brewery to try without driving to the Southtowns on a Friday afternoon (we still need to check out Hamburg and 42 North, but this wasn’t the day). 12 Gates fit the bill. It’s in Williamsville and serves a good variety of bar snacks that would tide us over until dinner with Cody’s family.

12 Gates Brewing Company | Succulents and Sunnies

After getting over our initial shock about the location and passing the door to a machine shop on our way to the tap room, we settled in with a flight and nachos inside. The bar was packed with a Friday afternoon happy hour crowd from surrounding businesses and everyone was happy to be there.

I tried the coffee porter, which was good in flight form but would likely get overwhelming in a pint. Instead, I went for the seasonal wheat, which was still the spring apricot variety. After polishing off our nachos we moved outside to enjoy the sunny day. The patio might just be a collection of picnic benches on a corner of the parking lot, but the tall wooden planters filled with hops and bright flowers help you forget that fact. There’s also corn hole and we saw four little bunnies hopping around behind the asphalt.

Because of the proximity the the airport, a plane approaches the runway every 15 minutes or so almost directly overhead. I rather enjoyed this added entertainment, but I can see it being a little bit anxiety-inducing for some.

The atmosphere, outdoor space and very nice bartender more than made up for the initial shock about the location. We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to 12 Gates and we’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 ☀️

Quick Trip: Ellicottville, NY

Cody and I took a quick trip to Ellicottville this weekend to visit Ellicottville Brewing Company and wander through a few of the small town’s shops. It was a perfect spring weekend – a little grey, but warm – perfect for a getaway to this cozy ski resort town.

Our first stop was the brewery tour at EBC. The old building is beautiful and the tour did a great job of not only explaining this history of beer and the Brewing Company, but also the building. The taproom’s bar is from the 1983 World Fair and is the second oldest bar in the area, which I found so interesting. Cody really enjoyed how knowledgeable our tour guide Kevin was on beer history and the making of beer.

Ellicottville, NY | Quick Trip | Succulents and Sunnies

Ellicottville, NY | Quick Trip | Succulents and Sunnies

The tastings at the end of the tour were delicious: Blueberry Wheat (already one of my favorites), Juicy Juice, Mosaic Sunrise and 1/2 Baked Porter. The tasting room is part of the brewery’s addition, framed by giant wooden beams and overlooking stainless steel beer tanks. We stayed for lunch and a flight, to try the beers on tap but not in the tasting room.

Ellicottville Brewing Company was the biggest reason we chose Ellicottville for our trip, and it turned out to be a good decision. We left educated and full, which was a nice combination.

We checked into our hotel and spent the next few hours watching HGTV (Fixer Upper marathon for the win!) and getting hungry enough to walk to our next meal, dinner at Villaggio. This is another place with a great atmosphere, full of rustic-eclectic decor, string lights and laughter. The Sabres game (which we actually won!) was on the big screen as we ate. There were definitely groups in Ellicottville for a Saturday night out, so I’m sure it would have been fun to stay out and visit a few of the town’s bars, but Cody and I headed back to our hotel to take advantage of the pool and hot tub.

Ellicottville, NY | Quick Trip | Succulents and Sunnies

Sunday morning we checked out of our hotel and walked back down Washington Street. We poked around in ski shops, home goods stores and Watson’s Chocolates before heading home. And how can you not stop and pet the dogs at Adventure Bound every time you walk by?

While our trip was short, Ellicottville was a perfect weekend escape. With the ski slopes still covered in snow but temperatures warming, wandering around the village was a great way to spend a day!