ICYMI, Beau and I hail from Niagara County. Yep. I grew up in Newfane and Beau in Lockport. Perhaps my roots a little more country than him and nonetheless, small-town life is what we know. So when there is a place ‘up north’ that is a must-see…we go!
Shirt Factory Cafe is the latest place to be transformed and back on the map in Orleans County. New owners Scott and Alix (you may know them as @DCMinute) have taken over the former Robert H. Newell & Co. building and started its new evolution in to being a staple in Medina, NY. They invited us out to nosh on their soon-to-be revealed Toast Bar and we couldn’t pass it up!
Medina is also going through a resurgence, like Buffalo just on a small town scale. Neighbors of the Shirt Factory Cafe include Mile 303, Zambistro, the vintage shop Ellen J Goods, and Mariachi de Oro. The Erie Canal flows through Medina and was once a popular stopover for trading. Now you can rent a hydrobike or kayak right in town at Pedal and Paddle Medina!
Scott and Alix’s introduction of a Toast Bar is so fun! They’re tweaking the toast now and we got a sneak peek invite to eat ALL OF IT.
Oh em gee.
I had to get a few bites in here and there before Beau ate them all. The cool thing about the ingredients is that Scott and Alix grow the beets and tomatoes in the garden at their beautiful farmhouse. They also source as many items as possible at local businesses like The Bread Basket in town for the toast.
The flight is really great for sharing and just one toast is enough to fill you up. Perfect for a to-go breakfast or lunch!
Their current menu boasts sandwiches, salads, coffee, and smoothies. Breakfast for those locals who need to pop in early and veggie options for those non-carnivorous eaters. We also shared an Avocado and White Bean wrap as well as a Bob Hope (turkey). I could eat the AWB ever day!
Scott and Alix are keeping a few old school Shirt Factory nostalgic items like photos and letters from early and mid 20th century shirt requests which is why we felt so proud to be inside their space. Keeping history with revitalized buildings is so important and they GET IT.
Medina is showing us glimmers of a new destination spot. With wineries nearby, water sports on the canal, and people like Scott and Alix (Medina boomerangs) determined to help shed its old skin there is no doubt you will be checking it out, too. Plans for the Shirt Factory Cafe are coming to fruition with ideas of an upgraded menu, Toast Bar, and eventually cocktails. In the same building, Hart Hotel is open and a boutique style place to stay. Medina is quickly becoming a great day trip or even staycation. Keep your eyes peeled on this one, guys. There’s a new town in…well…town. 😉
Fun fact: I grew up on a horticultural farm. My grandfather, parents, Aunt Jillie, siblings, and Great Aunt grew chrysanthemums by the 1,000s in Wrights Corners, NY for years. The tens of acres at my grandparents’ house was magical, beautiful, and hard work. Besides the mums, we also grew vegetables and sunflowers and my Grandpa took much of his garden to the local Farmer’s Market in Lockport every week. My brother studied landscape architecture and my mother is a retired art teacher. So naturally, this whole gardening thing is of interest to me and I am diving in to everything that has to do with the outside of the house.Beau is, too.
My parent’s home in Newfane, NY was meticulously landscaped and they spent every hour they could once the weather broke until the snow fell outside working on their flower beds. It was so stunning that people would drive down our road very slowly to check out the land and ask my Dad questions about what things were. (lol!) I spent ALOT of time in nurseries and greenhouses as a kid and have started to visit many of them now as an adult and getting my own things.
We have some stunning places in WNY and each nursery and greenhouse has a certain personality. Some are fierce flower joints, others focus on shrubs. Some have hearty plants and several are uniquely their own. This list is our personal guide to places we love that you should definitely be hittin’ up this Spring:
Our Top Greenhouses and Nurseries:
Russell’s Tree & Shrub Farm: The best place for trees, bushes, grasses, and shrubs. You can find small to large sizes for your budget and talk about delivery to your place. Transit Rd., East Amherst
Hi-Way Garden Center: A well-maintained and beautiful greenhouse filled with hearty and colorful perennials and annuals. We love getting our coleus, hens and chicks, and vegetables here. (yes, like the veggies you can grow yourself) Tonawanda Creek Rd., Amherst
Lockwood’s: A new discovery for us now that are Southtowners! This place has some stunning houseplants, beautiful spikes, and really hard-to-find annuals. Clark St., Hamburg
Seasonal Nursery: The place to look in to for landscaping design ideas and beautiful hanging baskets. We like to get spikes, sweet potato vines, and impatients here. Bullis Rd., Elma
Angle Acres Greenhouse: Here’s your hidden gem, guys. Angle Acres has 4 greenhouses filled with houseplants and unique varying sizes of succulents. Best place for a photo shoot. ***CASH ONLY. If you forget it’s okay- there is a gas station nearby with an ATM. Angle Rd., Orchard Park
It was one of those serendipitous meetings while strolling along Hertel Ave. last fall. The cutest pop-up caught our eye inside a popular local shop and we hit it off talking about Buffalo, Instagram, and the love of WNY artisans. It was buffBOX– a newly launched curated Buffalo box design that was the hit of all that walked by.
We were so impressed by this unique business that we caught up with owner Heidie Buffomante (I mean, c’mon, even her name is totally Buffalo!). Check out the inspiration behind the boxes and how you can get one, too:
Okay, we gotta start with the basics like…what is buffBOX and who are you?!
H: buffBOXes are curated collections that offer style, function, and feature items from small businesses. Each is thoughtfully created with a lot of love.
My husband, Adam, and I live in Williamsville with our sweet pup Daisy. I work as an Assistant Principal at a Middle School (which was also my favorite grade level to teach).
People in life matter, a ton. Gifting a custom buffBOX evokes feelings of importance and connection. Your gift recipient will feel like they have just received something extra special as they notice the unexpected details such as the elevated packaging or the handwritten note on linen paper. buffBOXes also support Buffalo’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. When purchasing, you are building into the resurgence of our city. It is my hope that the quality and uniqueness of your buffBOX items will get you right back into that small business to buy more and of course, connect with the owner/creator/artisan/entrepreneur.
This is new to the scene! How did it all begin and what was your inspiration behind it all? Everyone has a story about their creations!
H: After a brain injury in August 2014 I spent a significant amount of time at home recovering. It brought me immense joy to remix items throughout our home to optimize their function while also creating something beautiful. I needed to be in a space that elicited feelings of comfort and coziness as Adam and Daisy spent many evenings and weekends tucked inside with me. I evolved into styling spaces for my mom, sister and friends. All the while, I would have consistent FaceTime sessions with my dear friend Aubrey in California where we would dream about this turning into a business. Most recently in October 2017 I decided to share my curated pairings of home goods more broadly, did a big shop, came up with 30 variations, and had a “First Look” with family and friends a week later. Very shortly after that Adam picked me up from work on an afternoon we planned to hit up the small businesses on Hertel. It was a very rainy day and we considered just going home. Instead, we braved the Buffalo weather, had a conversation with a few local entrepreneurs about this passion project, and weeks later we were popped-up inside their store. This launched buffBOXes being featured in local blogs, a segment on Channel 7 news, collaborations with local entrepreneurs, and most importantly Adam and I met a lot of new people in our city of Buffalo. We are forever grateful to Bri at Modern Nostalgia, Matt with Scout & Cedar, and Katie creator of BKindCity for believing in buffBOXes and embracing us on that rainy night.
It’s nice to have a creative-type put these gifts together as a gift! Where do you frequent to find pieces for the boxes?
H: I create buffBOXes with functional and unique items I find on our travels around Buffalo and day trips on the weekend. This ensures there is a small business feature in each box. This is important to me and part of why I enjoy curating buffBOXes because each has its own authentic story that is shared on the personalized stationery packaged inside. I also have my stores I frequent often like Hobby Lobby and Marshall’s. I can always find supporting pieces to the anchor item in each box.
What are some good uses for a buffBOX? What kind of gifts could it be for?
H: Reason- (birthday, baby shower, housewarming, new job, just ‘cause, treat yo’ self)
Season- (spring tablescape, essential summer decor, fall vignette, hot cocoa station for a winter wonderland)
In each custom buffBOX there is a handwritten note sharing the small business feature, where the items have traveled from, or how it will compliment their lifestyle based on the information the gift-giver provides on my custom order form.
What are the ranges of buffBOXes if readers are looking to send a gift?
H: Custom buffBOXes come two ways: Regular $69, and BIG buffBOX for $99
For Pop-Ups at local businesses prices range from $4 to $45 for the Build-Your-Own buffBOX option. You can pick and choose which items you want with attractive price points.
How do the gifts get to the people?
H: Free pickup, $10 delivery within 20 miles of Williamsville. Shipping adds on a cost of the flat rate box.
Where can people see the buffBOXes?
H: Instagram @buffboxes is the platform I use to share what’s available for purchase, dates/locations for pop-ups, completed custom orders (with permission from the gift-giver), and information on how to order your own.
My personal Instagram @heidiebuff is a place to checkout how I style our home through the seasons and behind the scenes footage of my creation stages of buffBOXes in the Instagram Story. I just saved our adventure to Rochester to find some new goodies in the Highlight section.
What visually inspires you?
H: Casual simplicity of Skeem Design, color palettes of Kate Spade NY for spring, craftsmanship of Mariposa, timeless pieces in Mackenzie Childs courtly check, lush blankets in neutral color tones by Barefoot Dreams.
You recently had your home featured in Buffalo News! Yay!! How do you envision certain rooms and looks? What is the style you aim to achieve?
H: I am committed to creating our home spaces that are functional and truly evoke feelings of comfort and coziness. To do this, I start with an anchor item and monochromatic color palette. This helps guide my purchasing of other complementing pieces. For example, our oversized coffee table in white washed wood drove the tone of the wooden tabletop tray stacked with books and the hammered metal coaster set. Our hobbies are also sprinkled throughout the home, like Adam’s fondness of sports and collector items and our board game collection. See more pics here!
So you guys are in the Northtowns- what is your go-to place to eat? Any good date night suggestions?
H: Sandwiches and salads at D’Avolio or Japanese at Kumo for lunch. Roccos, San Marco Restaurant, Share, and Sinatra’s for dinner. The best date nights always involve an activity like bowling, games like Spot It, or popping in to play with our nephew Little Rick.
Working on a new custom order form that will be available soon!
Check out buffBOXes in person and meet Heidie! Pop on over to the Ellicott Square Building for the City of Buffalo Artists Market on Saturday 5/12/2018 from 11am-3pm. And remember- Mother’s Day is coming up on 5/13/18 so you’re going to want to send Mom a super fun buffBOX. 🙂
Aren’t we so lucky to have these incredible museums right here in our backyard? As kids, we are exposed to them through field trips and as adults we get to relive those moments all over again but with fresh eyes and respect.
Beau and I have been Albright-Knox Art Gallery lovers for life. My school did field trips here and I was able to experience my Mother (now a retired Art Teacher) taking her students to it as well. We went as a family a few times and as a ‘big kid’, Beau and I have attended for live music and special exhibits. Now that we have Chloe, it’s a whole new adventure. We took her for her very first Albright experience last weekend and it was more magical than we expected.
AKG had a hands-on exhibit called ‘Art of the Senses’ which included works you could taste, touch, and hear. Great interaction for people of all ages, especially babies! Chloe was looking everywhere and seemed to love the bright art the most. The museum was packed and rightly so- the second exhibit featured the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami which was colorful, mesmerizing, and imaginative. (Think: the Japanese Lisa Frank)
AKG is stroller-friendly (can carefully take stairs, too, but there is a small elevator). There is a cafe inside you can grab lunch at- a sit down so you can enjoy your time. The gift shop is always fun afterward because you will find unique art supplies, books, and decor. You see classic artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Matisse and they even brought back the ever-popular favorite: The Mirrored Room by Lucas Samaras. *bring socks so you can step inside!
We’re pretty cheesy, if you didn’t already know. Every time we had Chloe take some pics, she giggled and posed- clearly she has the cheese, too. Must be in our genes! How can you not want to get a cool shot in the Albright-Knox though??
These exhibits I mentioned have ended their time at AKG, but the museum is constantly curating new exhibits and artists to come. The best place to see what is currently there and arriving soon is on their website: Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Follow their Instagram, too!
This is seriously one of our top fav date places in Buffalo! You can solo, grab a friend, bring the kids and baby, cross generations, or go on a date.
Grab your camera, grab your person…even download their app to play some fun games. We are too lucky not to keep going to AKG again and again, to expose our young selves once again and of course to enlighten the future youth.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery // 2182 Delaware Ave. Buffalo 14216
Tuesday – Sunday 10-5 // First Friday of each month is 10-10
We have a secret: all of our great finds happen at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. Seriously. Beau gets all of his workout gear from Puma, Chloe gets her fancy pants from Janie and Jack, and I get tons of business attire from J. Crew and Banana Republic. Just to name a few.
We teamed up with the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls- they dared us to find a holiday look without breaking our bank. BRING IT. We were so in. There are tons of stores that have incredible deals, especially in December- each day there is up to 75% off pricing and then on top of those deals you can find the holiday pricing too! It’s so easy to find a handful of different party looks…because you can’t be rockin’ the same outfit at every event.
Don’t believe us? That’s ok- this list here shows you all the deals happening in December. See for yourself. The best part of the Outlets is that they are not that far away. REPEAT: they’re dang close. When we lived in downtown Buffalo, it took us 20 minutes and in Orchard Park it takes us 35 minutes. It’s a nice drive with coffee in hand. Take the 190N for a pretty view of the water if you come from the south. And once you get there, you’ll have plenty of shops in and around the outlets plus a lot of options for refueling with food.
Bring the kiddos because Santa is visiting through 12/24 and the fur babies can hang out with him for photos through 12/21. Check here for details. Chloe held on pretty well for her first shot!
Ok ok, so on to our finds for our next casual holiday party!
Check out the most updated list of stores at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. We think you’ll be surprised. Challenge yourself to check out some unique stores like Sarar for men’s suits, Beef Jerky Outlet for the carnivore in your family, Helly Hansen for outdoor ski wear, Le Creuset for cast iron cookware, Just Cozy has all the holiday leggings for Christmas morning, and DAVIDsTEA has the tea-lover needs. The online site has an easy-to-read map so you can plan out where to park (we like coming in through Saks) and which way you’re headed. Oh and our biggest must-do? You MUST check out the Donut Ninja, a little kiosk in the center of the mall. They’re fryin’ up donuts, they’re local, and we’re obsessed.
Thank you, Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, for always helping us find what we need! We’ll see you again real soon.
We love chocolate. Lots of it. So when we were invited to go hang out at Platter’s and experience their place, there really was no question on if we should go or not.
We noticed Platter’s Chocolates new digs up on Niagara Falls Boulevard in November of 2016 when they opened their new shop. Located in the old Wurlitzer building, they’re more than just a spot to grab some candy- it’s become a full-on destination filled with a modern industrial design and cozy hangout areas for anyone to chill at. Platter’s started with a husband and wife team in 1938 who created their chocolate in their home. After retiring in the late 60’s, a former neighborhood kid bought it in 1972 and kept the tradition while growing at the same time. The family continues on with making it bigger and better!
Saturday afternoon we headed up to North Tonawanda with BabyLovebird Chloe in tow, expecting to peruse shelves full of chocolate. But hold the phone- this place is WAY more than we thought it would be. We were greeted by bright and bubbly Nicole, one of the managers and also part of the owner’s family. Their new location has coffee, lattes, teas, Perry’s ice cream, sundaes, candy, sponge, smoothies, chocolate…it’s a complete surprise when you walk in!
Poor Chloe!! Sorry, baby, you can’t have any yet!The place was bustling; filled with kids and families…a mom and her two college-aged daughters…an older gentleman sitting and reading the paper with his coffee…it’s a new generation of chocolate shops.
While there is no sponge production to watch right now (since it’s humid in the summer!), the machines and operations were all quiet. But come fall, the place will be making and baking like crazy. You will be quite surprised how large their 24,000 square-foot space is and the various types of machinery they use (some even from Germany!).
Now you can’t pass by Platter’s- you have to go see for yourself! (psstt! It’s only minutes away from the Boulevard Mall) It is too charming not to go again and again and again. We are looking forward to visiting soon to watch the Platter’s and the Chocolate Factory work their magic come sponge season!
Platter’s Chocolates / The Wurlitzer Building, 908 Niagara Falls Blvd. / North Tonawanda, NY 14120
M-F 7am-10pm…Saturday 8am-10pm…Sunday 10am-10pm (they’re open late!!)
grab chocolate gifts, watch them making sweet treats
perfect for family, kids, solo, casual first date, dessert, coffee date