Happy 4th of July from Rusterior and I

Happy fourth of July everyone! I hope you’re enjoying some dazzling fireworks and delicious cookout foods, while staying cool. A heat wave has hit the greater Niagara area, resulting in close to triple digit temperatures -not exactly what we’re known for! I was surprised to learn that it hasn’t ever hit 100 degrees in Buffalo according to many local news channels. I can recall it exceeding 100F at least once in Central New York, but it’s still a very foreign concept. I don’t know how people deal with such exceedingly hot weather, sometimes for days or weeks at a time, out west and down south. At least with the cold you can add another layer or plug in another heater… Remind me of this when I inevitably whine about snow in November :).

I don’t really know how to shop for a season that doesn’t involve layers. On a typical June/July day I am still almost guaranteed to be sporting a cardigan or denim jacket, even if it’s just to combat the arctic tundra (AC) at work. The super comfortable and patriotic top  I received courtesy of Rusterior * was perfect for a dress down day at work and afterwards I was happy to throw on some denim cutoffs and make it work for a cooler summer evening. The fabric is breathable and breezy, ideal for layering under a flannel or over a tank. Can’t you just picture sitting around a bonfire, spreading the buffa-love in this tee?

I’m heading to Gilbert Lake this weekend, about an hour from my hometown/original CNY stomping grounds, to go camping with friends. I’m looking forward to swimming, snacking and lounging, while disconnecting from the 9-5ish hustle of the work week. This seems like the perfect way to celebrate America and the first week of July!

*Thank you Rusterior for collaborating with me as a brand rep! They are offering CPN readers 10% off their order with code Rfriends10 on etsy -check them out! #sponsored

Shopping Local

I moved to Lockport, another distant suburb of Buffalo, last month. The move is my latest excuse for my blogging hiatus, but I’m back!! Life is still busy, but my studio apartment is slowly feeling more like home and I am ready to share my experiences as I explore my new surroundings. Tis the season for festivals and shopping small! Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of Amazon and other online retailers, but there is no better time to walk the snow-less streets of Western New York and support area businesses, than June.

I love farmers markets! Knowing where my food came from and maybe even the family of farmers that are benefiting from my purchase, is immediately gratifying. Right now strawberries are ripe for the picking and my mom will be making freezer jam before the month is over. There is also nothing like a juicy fresh tomato in the beginning of summer, slice it up and layer with some mozzarella, basil and D’Avolio 18 Year balsamic… and you have my dinner a minimum of 2 nights a week. Caprese is the best!!

Once I’ve stocked up on produce and beautiful flowers (I’ve turned into quite the plant mom over the last month, most of my children are still living!), I will undoubtedly see at least one garage sale sign. Garage sales are my kryptonite! I swear my thought process tends to go from “I don’t need anything” to  “Why yes, I am in the market for a motor scooter, drone, chaise, pirate ship, _______  it’s so cheap!”. When I frivolously spend on the right item though, it’s worth it. Just 2 weeks ago I bought a cedar trunk (see top in photo) from Tennessee, currently functioning as my coffee table and storage, for $10! As someone still suffering from sticker shock every time I consider purchasing a piece of furniture (Is a couch REALLY necessary?), I appreciate a bargain more than ever.

But when garage/estate/rummage sales aren’t sufficing, I window shop some local boutiques, gathering inspiration and splurging on worthwhile pieces. Here are some area establishments I think are worth the visit:

Buffalo Gal Organics -Your senses, skin and soul will thank you for walking in the door. The smell inside Kathy’s shop is incredible! Meander around her Main Street, Williamsville skincare sanctuary and test lotions, masks, cosmetics and fragrances. I recommend the Ginger Lemongrass body balm, it’s so fresh and bright!

Molly & Kate – Farmhouse fashion and home decor, galore! I haven’t visited the shop in Hamburg, but I live vicariously through their meticulously curated instagram feed, so I feel like I know their style fairly well. They recently launched their online store and fellow WNY blogger Belle of the Ball collaborated with them, offering code belle for free shipping for a limited time! From zip code pillows to gingham bow blouses, I love their adorable attention to details.

Her Sanctuary – Get in touch with your inner self. Drop by for a yoga class, meditation session or holistic shopping experience. There is something therapeutic about the strong female energy inside this retail and creative space! **BONUS** Purrfect Cat Cafe will be opening just a few doors down, as if you needed another reason to visit Hertel Ave.

Where are your favorite places to shop local?

A “Grape” Day on the Niagara Wine Trail

I love wine. It’s one of my guilty pleasures, complete with cheese and carbs. When my friend Sandy decided she wanted to celebrate her birthday for the second year in a row by going on a wine tour, I was completely on board. ~If sporadic social day drinking is wrong, I don’t want to be right~


The Niagara Wine Trail practically runs through my parents’ backyard. Since moving to the area in 2012 I’ve frequented the wineries quite a bit. The wine trail has a festival in July in Lewiston each year which made it even easier to indulge in one central location. I used that “research” to help Sandy pick out the must visit wineries for her birthday festivus.

Stop 1. Niagara Landing – This winery is for the sweet grapey wine drinker. At $8-15 a bottle, their price point is typical for the trail. They have a series of Rosebud wines that remind me of juice -making them very dangerous… I left this winery with a Semi-Dry Reisling.

*PRO TIP* Buy bottles at the first few wineries and then just sample at the rest. I’ve made the mistake of purchasing at winery 6 instead of 1 and my intoxicated taste buds are not picky.

Stop 2. Gust of Sun – Do the wine and chocolate tasting!! I found a citrus white chocolate paired with their Dry Diamond white wine that was amazing. I used 4 of my 5 tastings on this combination! This location also sells fun fruity wine slushies, perfect on a hot summers day (not that had one, it was a chilly 40 degrees out.. IN APRIL.. A Buff-a-fail).

Stop 3. Midnight Run – The atmosphere is cute and quaint, but in the spirit of honesty, I sat this winery out. The service was sub par and I was saving my tastings for more attentive staff and more appealing wines. Our group of 22 also dawdled a little longer than planned at the previous stops (because they’re awesome), so this visit was brief.

Stop 4. Victorianbourg – Again we were on a time crunch so we actually pulled in, and pulled away, from this winery. The bar is small and we were going to take over the whole thing.. but if you do have the time and the space I highly recommend their Pechette. I went on a tour last summer and bought a bottle that was gone within days.

Stop 5. Black Willow Winery – More wine and chocolate! And popcorn! And olive oils and balsamic! I mean yes, I go to wineries for the wine but when all else fails, it’s good to have a delicious pallet cleanser. I’ve been to this winery the most out of any of these stops and never tire of it. If you have the opportunity to sit on the back concrete patio with a glass or 3 of your favorite, while looking out on the vineyard, do it!

Stop 6. Schulze – My favorite wine here was definitely the Thirty Mile Point Niagara. If you’re feeling adventurous they have *crackling* aka carbonated wines, which is fun too.

Stop 7. Spring Lake Winery – Even on a gloomy cloudy April shower filled day, this winery was picturesque. The lake is so serene and the patio games are adorable. I’m normally a big fan of Gervurtztraminer, but not theirs. It was quite dry, an oddity for such a sweet wine trail. Their Caramel Apple Sangria and their Peach Sangria are huge hits in my book though, they have been better than any other wine I’ve sampled straight.

I haven’t sampled my way through the Lake Erie Wine Trail (aka Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail), but I want to. The Finger Lakes are also on my list. If you have any recommendations for a “grape” day involving wine, please pass them along!