The Cutest Eateries on Anna Maria Island

Last week, I traveled to beautiful Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast for a long weekend of lazy days on the beach. Along with a few friends, I laid on the beach, bodysurfed in the waves, drank mimosas with breakfast every morning and ate a LOT of food.

We made good use of our rental home’s kitchen, but it’s not vacation without a few meals out. We didn’t have a chance to try everywhere we wanted to. Our bigger group kept us from trying smaller restaurants, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the food we did try, we had a few favorites!

For After Dinner Drinks: The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Local beers on draft, tropical mixed drinks and frozen cocktails kept everyone happy at The Ugly Grouper. The bar gets its cool vibe from the completely open-air setting and a giant mixed media grouper statue. We had fun playing the Bimini ring game, cornhole and giant Jenga.

The Ugly Grouper has a full menu and tons of live music, but we didn’t have the chance to experience either.

For Ice Cream: Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

In typical Florida fashion, we spent one afternoon waiting for pouring rain to pass. We bundled up and headed for Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery. The gelato was amazing and so was the decor. I had a scoop of cookies and cream and a scoop of Irish cream in a waffle cone, which I highly recommend. Their coffee was delicious as well!

For Tacos and Margs: Wicked Cantina

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Wicked Cantina

No warm-weather vacation is complete without tacos and fresh margaritas. Lucky for us, Wicked Cantina‘s tacos are amazing and the margaritas come in goblet-sized glasses. The chips and salsa were truly bottomless, and both the salsa and queso were a satisfying amount of spicy.

For Fresh-Caught Grouper: Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

While not technically on the island, this seafood shack is definitely worth mentioning. After a foggy morning on the boat, we headed toward Star Fish Company‘s dock as the sun began to shine. This market/restaurant combination is located on one of the last working fishing docks in Florida. The fish is fresh, the fries are crispy and everyone there is as happy to be there as I was.

Perry’s Celebrates 100 Years with Retro Flavors and the Cutest Cartons

As I’ve mentioned before, I really love ice cream. This week, after a quick trip to Florida and springtime sunshine streaming through the windows back in Buffalo, I’m so ready to dig into a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

It just so happens that this week Perry’s, one of my favorite Buffalo ice cream brands, released 4 classic flavors to celebrate their anniversary. It’s not just any anniversary – Perry’s is celebrating 100 years as a family-owned ice cream company. The flavors are packaged in the cutest vintage ice cream parlor style cartons that really stand out on the shelf!

These retro flavors are limited-edition releases of past favorites from the 1950s to the 1990s. I know you’re wondering what they taste like, but don’t worry. Cody and I sacrificed an evening this week to let you know if any of these flavors are worth giving up your usual Panda Paws or Bittersweet Sinphony.

Parkerhouse, circa 1950s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Parkerhouse circa 1950s

If you grew up in Buffalo, you know the thrill of stopping for Perry’s at a roadside stand. The classic sign pointing you towards one of these stands is actually a cone filled with the Parkerhouse flavor!

This ice cream has a classic amaretto base with maraschino cherries. Considering I don’t like either of these flavors, Parkerhouse was actually pretty good.

Heavenly Hash, circa 1970s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Heavenly Hash circa 1970s

Chocolate ice cream and marshmallow swirls with Swiss chips and roasted almonds. What more could you possibly need in life? I may or may not be almost done with this carton already… It’s definitely my favorite of the retro collection.

Butterscotch Sundae, circa 1980s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Butterscotch Sundae circa 1980s

So. Much. Butterscotch. Not only is the base ice cream a rich butterscotch, there are salty butterscotch swirls throughout with peanuts for a nice crunch. A small scoop was so good, but this ice cream is way too rich for any more than that!

Malt Shoppe, circa 1990s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Malt Shoppe circa 1990s

If there was an ice cream Cody and I remembered from its original release, it would have been Malt Shoppee. The flavor didn’t ring any bells, but that didn’t stop us from loving it! This one is disappearing from our freezer as quickly as the Heavenly Hash.

For more information about these sweet flavors or if you want to try them for yourself, check out Perry’s website dedicated to their anniversary.

I received each of these retro flavors for free in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites

I’m constantly looking for snacks I can make Sunday to play double duty for me during the week. Some days, I need something quick before I go to the gym in the morning. Others, I eat breakfast at home but then need a snack at work.

A handful of almonds and craisins are an easy solution, but I like to add a little variety every few weeks. Last month, I made Oh She Glow’s Oil-Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (which last two weeks if I freeze half the batch). This week, I was searching Pinterest for something similar.

Oatmeal-based energy bites caught my eye. All had similar base ingredients: oatmeal, nut butter and honey. Most also included protein powder, soaked dates and chocolate chips, which seemed a little too complicated for Sunday night meal prep.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Directions

Instead, I mixed up these cinnamon raisin oatmeal bites, and they’re pretty good! I posted a picture on my Instagram story and asked if you’d be interested in seeing a recipe. The majority of you said yes, so here it is!

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites

These are super quick to make. I ended up mixing them together on Monday morning before work. The recipe makes about 15 bites. That was perfect for me, because I had 3 for each day. And yes, there are really 6 ingredients, but I don’t think the cinnamon counts!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 oz box raisins

Directions

  1. Add the oats, flaxseed, honey, peanut butter and cinnamon to a food processor and mix. The ingredients will come together into a texture similar to a pie crust.
  2. After everything is mixed, add the raisins and process for just a few more seconds.
  3. Take the rough dough and shape into 15 bite-sized balls. Place the bites onto a cookie sheet.
  4. Cover the bites on the cookie sheet with a dish towel and stick them in the fridge for a few hours. After they set, you can transfer them to a container and keep them in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Texture

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Directions

A serving of three bites has about 11 grams of sugar, which seems high until you consider that about 1 gram is from the peanuts in peanut butter, 4 are from the natural sugar in grapes and the remaining 6 are from the honey. If you’re worried about the amount of sugar, decrease the amount of honey and add a touch more peanut butter!

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites | Honey

You can easily add in protein powder, chocolate chips or other dried fruit to make these to your taste. Cody has already said he’s going to make them without honey and see how it goes.

Do you have a snack that’s both breakfast and desk appropriate that you love? Let me know on Facebook or in the comments below!

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!

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.

How To: Using Instagram to Plan the Perfect Trip

I love social media and I love to travel, so it probably isn’t much of a surprise when I say that I always use social media when planning a getaway. Instagram is particularly helpful, because people share the most beautiful place they saw during their day, which usually means it’s worth your time as well. This was really helpful in Costa Rica (check out all the highlights in this post) because it was a shorter trip, which meant less time to wander and happen upon the coolest places on our own. Here are 3 ways I used Instagram to make our trip extra-amazing:

1. Research Local Hashtags Before You Go

Start with basic location-based hashtags (like #costarica, #sanjose and #manuelantonio) and let Instagram’s suggestions lead you down a rabbit hole. Collect a list of 15 or 20 of the the most promising, based on how the photos look, how many posts there are and how relevant they are to what you want to do on your trip.

How To Use Social Media to Plan a Vacation | Succulents and Sunnies
There are 3 reasons you should do this:

  1. Take a look at what people are already posting to discover unique must-dos and restaurants.
  2. Post pictures of your own trip with these hashtags for more likes AND to help future travelers.
  3. Help local attractions find you. Cafe Milagro in Manual Antonio commented on a photo I posted and we ended up going 3 times. We would have never chosen it on our own, but the craft beer, live music and local coffee were all amazing!

2. Search the Cities You’ll Be Visiting

Instagram’s “Places” are also really helpful when you’re looking for things to do. I like this feature because it not only lets you scroll through all the photos tagged as in that city (Quepos, Costa Rica for example), but also at locations within that city (like Playa Manuel Antonio).

How To Use Social Media to Plan a Vacation | Succulents and Sunnies
This really helps when you’re trying to figure out which must-dos are where, especially when they’re not in a book or on Google Maps (like the can’t-be-missed Playa Biesanz). Plus, Instagram’s new location stories make this easier than ever!

3. Follow Local Attractions You Want to Visit

This goes for local businesses you’re planning on patronizing too. To stay up to date on hours, special events and even coupons, give places you really want to visit a follow. Their posts could help you decide what day you stop by or other nearby stops you should make. This tip can also be applied to Facebook and Twitter, depending on where the attraction or business is most active. If you’re visiting a country where you don’t speak the language, Facebook’s native translation will do a good enough job to get the point across.

Now go and plan a killer vacation! And let me know how you use social media to find the coolest places on your next trip.

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 second scoop shop, Poutine and Cream, Lloyd Taco Factory and window shopping)
    3. Silo City
    4. Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck
    5. Wilkeson Pointe
    6. Tifft Nature Preserve
    7. Erie County Botanical Gardens
    8. WNY Book Arts Center
    9. Rowhouse Bakery and Restaurant
    10. Remedy House’s open air space
    11. Sunday brunch on any and every patio in the city

 

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. Chestnut Ridge Park
  4. Bike rides (although I’m going to need a bike for this 🤔)
  5. Lockport Caves
  6. Spruce Lake at Holiday Valley
  7. Go on a picnic
  8. Explore Lewiston and East Aurora

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 ☀️