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 that make it on my list every year, as well as some new adventures I’ve been waiting for warmer weather to try. Buffalo is an incredible city in the summer and Rochester has so much to offer too!

I never make it 100% of the way through my summer bucket list. But I do love having lots of options to choose from when WNY offers us a beautiful breezy afternoon with plenty of sunshine!

Buffalo City Hall

Common Council Chambers at Buffalo City Hall

You can step onto the observation deck from 8 am to 4 pm during the week. Preservation Buffalo Niagara offers daily tours (Monday through Friday) at noon that cover the lobby, common council chambers, the mayor’s office and observation deck.

Camping

It isn’t summer without a couple of nights in the tent. This year, I think I might try hammock camping… Wish me luck!

Chestnut Ridge Park

I’ve never hiked to the eternal flame, which is the biggest reason Chestnut Ridge Park is on my summer bucket list. There are also a few miles of trails for hiking or biking.

Chimney Bluffs

Drive east for a couple of hours along Lake Ontario and you’ll arrive at Chimney Bluffs State Park. I think this dramatic landscape will be worth the drive.

Farmers’ Markets

No WNY farmers’ market will ever be as good as Ithaca’s. But the bustling Elmwood Village Farmers’ Market, Rochester’s Public Market and, our neighborhood option, the Kenmore Farmers’ Market, are worth visiting.

Fitness at Canalside

There are so many (free!) classes scheduled at Canalside this summer. I want to take advantage of the nice weather with an outdoor workout at least a few times this year.

Fishing

Fishing on Lake Erie with Brookdog Fishing Company

Whether it’s a trip on the lake with Brookdog Fishing Company or an hour at the pond near my parents’ house, it’s not summer without a little bit of fishing.

Food Truck Tuesday

Hanging out in Larkinville with friends after work on Tuesday never gets old. Between the food trucks and nearby restaurants, there’s something for everyone here.

George Eastman Museum

I love photography and I love upstate NY history. Naturally, the George Eastman Museum is calling my name.

Highland Park

Just like Buffalo’s park system, Rochester’s Highland Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. I really want to spend a few hours wandering through Lamberton Conservatory and the acres of gardens and trees.

Kayaking

We never seem to kayak as often as we want to during the summer. This year, I’m determined to get out on the water at least a few times. Oak Orchard Creek is my personal favorite for a day-long paddle.

Silo City

Every summer there’s something new at Silo City. I will make it to at least one event in this historic venue.

Spruce Lake

Did you know there’s a lake at Holiday Valley? You can kayak and paddleboard on Spruce Lake after arriving by car, chairlift or your own two feet.

Sunday Brunch

It is not summer without brunch on a patio, or three. Bring on the mimosas.

Sunset Drive-In

Our favorite drive-in is a good 45 minute drive from our house, but it’s so worth it. Stop on the way to pick up snacks, or get ice cream after picking the best spot in the parking lot.

WNY Book Arts Center

Buffalo isn’t always sunny and warm, even during the summer. WNY Book Arts Center is a unique indoor option!

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!

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

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.

 

Celebrating Día de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos | Taylor K Flynn

Our local Mexican restaurant, Mariachi de Oro in Medina, is delicious on any day, from the housemade salsa to the sizzling fajitas. But this year, I was lucky enough to join them for the traditional meal they host each fall for Día de los Muertos, along with Cody and his family. Let me tell you, I was blown away by the event.

From the marimba band and the marigold ofrenda, to the worms in our tequila shots, this event was as celebratory as my family’s Thanksgiving. I truly felt included in the special night, hosted by the Rosario family, who owns and operates the restaurant.

The family is from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and between cheerful songs and more food than humanly possible to eat, they explained the tradition of the Day of the Dead. There was Pan de Muertos with Mexican hot chocolate, the most delicious tamales, endless chicken mole with homemade corn tortillas. To finish the meal, as if we weren’t already stuffed with the most incredible food, there was flan and shots of tequila – with worms (that I did not add to my drink), which is apparently something that began Oaxaca.

As the digital marketer I am, I also loved the Facebook Live Mariachi de Oro was rocking throughout the celebration.

If you’ve never been, I highly encourage you to check out Mariachi de Oro. And if you have, spending Día de los Muertos with them is a special experience you’ll definitely love.

Back in the (716)

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As much as I love Ithaca, I really missed Buffalo the last few years. Now that graduation is over, I’m settling into the life of an unemployed college graduate (and if anyone knows of anyone that needs a social media marketer, digital media coordinator or marketing associate, let me know). While unemployment has its downsides – like having no income and ungodly amounts of free time, with which I’m marathoning NCIS on Netflix – I am also able to spend time exploring the places that I’ve missed so much while at school.

In June, I went to Food Truck Tuesday twice. That’s two more times than last summer, when I was living in Ithaca. Friends and I perused Larkin Square before heading down to Flying Bison for drinks and cornhole on a beautiful evening early in the month.

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square

Food Truck Tuesday at Flying Bison Brewery

Canalside has changed so much over the last four years and I finally have the chance to enjoy it! Mom, Dad and I celebrated Father’s Day with a walk along the inner harbor from the marina to Riverfest Park and dinner at (716). We watched the sunset and the beginning of the silo illuminations from three of the park’s colorful Adirondack chairs. A few weeks later, I took advantage of Canalside’s free concert lineup with friends when Frankie Ballard came to town. Both nights, the park was filled with people taking advantage of the water, the free exercise classes and the metro.

Buffalo's inner harbor

Buffalo RiverWorks from Riverfest Park

Canalside at sunset

Grain elevator light display at dusk

USS Little Rock at dusk

Canalside during the Frankie Ballard concert

Canalside during the Frankie Ballard concert

Over the next few weeks, I’m aiming to visit Elmwood Village, Allentown and a few museums. And after that, I will hopefully have a job!