Wednesday, January 28, 2015

50 Things to do Before Spring

In about 50 days, it’ll be SPRING!!!!! (Isn’t this where Snoopy does his happy dance??)


I’ve always believed there’s always something to do in the Buffalo-Niagara area, and I’ve come up with a list of 50 things you can do before spring kicks off on March 20th – because at that point, a whole new list comes out with things to do before Memorial Day!
  • Visit Canalside – because there’s so much to do!
  • Check out HarborCenter – there’s sure to be a game going on, otherwise check out (716) or Tim Hortons.
  • Catch a game at the First Niagara Center – the Sabres and Bandits are both in action.
  • Garth Brooks!! – ‘nuf said.
  • Queen City Roller Girls – catch roller derby action at Buffalo RiverWorks.
  • Lumagination – the Botanical Gardens’ annual light show gets reworked for 2015.
  • Walk through the Olmstead Parks – there are so many to choose from.
  • Visit the Buffalo History Museum – a little slice of history, plus Tim Russert’s office.
  • Visit the Japanese Garden – right behind the History Museum (two-fer!).
  • Visit Glen Park (or your favorite local park)
  • Check out M&T Museum Fridays – Albright-Knox, Burchfield-Penney, Buffalo History Museum and Buffalo Arts Studio.
  • Exhibits and events at the Botanical Gardens – orchids, lights, Victorian tea, yoga…something for everybody!
  • WNY Home and Garden Expo – head to the Hamburg Fairgrounds and get ideas for your spring home shape-up.
  • Buffalo Home Show – not enough ideas in Hamburg? Head to the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center for more!
  • Buffalo Auto Show – in the market for a new car or truck? Visit the Convention Center for this one too.
  • Cavalcade of Cars – muscle cars, hot rods and motorsports – yes, please!
  • Visit a local brewery – there’s a Buffalo brewing resurgence (yes, that’s one of the breweries!).
  • HorsefeathersWinter Market – who says farmer’s-style markets have to be held outdoors?
  • Great Harvest BreadCo. – I discovered this place at the Williamsville Farmer’s Market a couple of years ago, then visited last year after hitting Plantasia at the Hamburg Fairgrounds – delish! Located at 18 Buffalo St. in Hamburg.
  • Larkinville Ice Festival – just another reason to go to Larkinville!
  • Polar Bites – support the Buffalo Zoo at this fundraising event.
  • Local Restaurant Week – pick a new restaurant or two to visit, then hit an old favorite for inexpensive eats.
  • Go bowling – because it’s a Buffalo thing to do.
  • Take a Buffalo tour – there’s so much you can learn on guided tours, especially about this great city.
  • Check out Elmwood Ave. – shopping, restaurants, galleries, etc., etc.
  • Plan a garden – because at least you can think about spring and summer that way.
  • Check out Hertel Ave. – see Elmwood Ave…
  • Walk the Village of Williamsville – spend the day discovering Main St.
  • Binge-watch your favorite TV or movie series – because it’s a winter thing to do.
  • Explore East Aurora – Vidler’s, Fisher-Price, the Roycroft Inn and so much more.
  • Outdoor ice skating – check out Canalside, Fountain Plaza, or any of these.
  • Test your swing at the Paddock Golf Dome – again, because it feels like spring.
  • Plan your summer vacation – you don’t have to get out of Buffalo – plan a staycation! But if you do need to leave, it’s something to look forward to when it’s 10-degrees out!
  • Rediscover downtown Buffalo – you haven’t seen Buffalo if you haven’t seen it recently.
  • Check out Forest Lawn on Sundays – tours, speakers, music and more.
  • Try a new workout – there’s more than just big box gyms in Buffalo – try BikeorBar or one of the new barre workout centers in Buffalo.
  • Visit Niagara Falls – it’s in our backyard, but it’s underappreciated.
  • Visit the Buffalo Zoo – yes, in the winter.
  • Sample soup at SoupFest – February 15th at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center.
  • Support the team at the Chili Cookoff – the Lake Effect Furies, one of the Queen City Roller Girls teams, is hosting a Chili Cookoff on February 7th.
  • Indulge your sweet tooth at Sweet Charity – support the Food Bank of WNY on February 5th.
  • Support local pond hockey – the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament is at Buffalo RiverWorks the weekend of February 20th through 22nd.
  • Make new wall d├ęcor at a paint-and-sip night – check out Paint on Tap, Pinot’s Palette or one of the events at PaintNite.com.
  • Celebrate “fake” summer at the Eastern Hills Mall – take the kids to EHM for Summer in February, February 14th through 22nd.
  • Visit the Niagara Wine Trail with your Valentine – “Be Mine with Wine” is a wine and chocolate pairing event February 13th through 15th.
  • Preview spring at Plantasia – Plantasia begins on the first day of spring (March 19th), but you can check out preview night on March 18th.
  • Support the Aquarium at SEAsonings – the Aquarium of Niagara hosts SEAsonings, the original “Taste of Niagara,” on March 5th.
  • Have some family fun at Explore & More – celebrate winter break and the Lunar New Year at Explore & More Children’s Museum in East Aurora, February 16th through 20th.
  • Celebrate the final weekend of winter at Holiday Valley – March 14th and 15th, Holiday Valley and the Village of Ellicottville present their annual Winter Carnival.
  • Sample maple syrup, sugar and more at Sprague’s Maple Farms – grab a bite to eat and check out the old-fashioned sugarhouse with tastings and demonstrations.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Five Things to do in February 2015

February already? Yep – and that means one month closer to spring! Here are a few things to check out in February to keep your mind off the cold that is bound to still make its way through the Buffalo-Niagara region.

credit: paulathompsonfreelance.com
Support the Buffalo Zoo – the Buffalo Zoo, located at 300 Parkside Ave. in Buffalo, is open year round – hours through June 30th are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with a few exceptions) – but if you’d rather support the Zoo indoors, check out Polar Bites, the Zoo’s annual fundraiser, on Thursday, February 19th from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center on Franklin St. in downtown Buffalo. There will be food and beverages from some of Buffalo’s most popular establishments, plus basket auctions, silent auctions and visits from animal ambassadors. Find out more about the event and purchase tickets at www.buffalozoo.org.

Satisfy your sweet tooth – help out the Food Bank of WNY and indulge in specialty food, desserts, wine and beer tastings at the ninth annual Sweet Charity on Thursday, February 5th from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Atrium at Rich’s, One Robert Rich Way in Buffalo. There will also be silent auctions and live auctions, and chocolate roses will be available for purchase. Tickets are $60 per person and available at www.foodbankwny.org.

Check out the Pond Hockey Tournament – the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament returns to Buffalo for its eighth season, and to its new site at Buffalo RiverWorks for the second year. The 2015 tournament takes place Friday through Sunday, February 20th through 22nd, and will feature approximately 1,000 players across 11 men’s and one women’s division. Hours are Friday noon to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. – find out more at www.labattbluepondhockey.com/buffalopond.

Sample some hot stuff – the Lake Effect Furies, part of the Queen City Roller Girls, will host their 2015 Chili Cook-off on Saturday, February 7th from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Appliance Associates of Buffalo, 200 Amherst St. in Buffalo.  There will be meat and vegetarian categories as well as 50/50 and basket raffles – tickets are just $10, and more information can be found here. If soup is more your style, check out Buffalo SoupFest on Sunday, February 15th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.


Buffalo History Museum
credit: paulathompsonfreelance.com
Kick off your weekends at a local museum – did you know there are now FOUR M&T Fridays at Buffalo-area museums? M&T First Fridays begins the month at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo, followed by M&T Second Fridays at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave. on the Buffalo State campus in Buffalo. The Buffalo History Museum, located at One Museum Ct. in Buffalo, hosts M&T Third Fridays, and the Buffalo Arts Studio, located at the Tri-Main Center (2495 Main St., Suite 500) in Buffalo,  recently joined in the fun with M&T Fourth Fridays. Take advantage of museum freebies in the Buffalo area!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Looking forward: 75 days until the Buffalo Bisons’ season opener

Coca Cola Field/credit: Buffalo Bisons
Need something to look forward to in these days of cold weather and snow? How about baseball season?! The Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, open their home season on Thursday, April 9th at 2:05 p.m. against the Rochester Red Wings, and you know you want to be there – just because it screams spring!

Tickets go on sale in March, but it’s not too early to take a look at the schedule and see which games you want to go to – check it out here. Tickets are really affordable for Bisons games, with no seat costing more than $14. Save money by taking advantage of one of the ticket packages the Bisons offer, or bring four people to the game with a Family 4-Pack for $68.

The entire promotional schedule has yet to be released, but a few of the important dates are out there – like the annual Independence Eve concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday, July 3rd and the always-popular Star Wars Night on Saturday, July 18th.


Keep up with all of the Bisons’ news and purchase tickets when they become available at their website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Buffa-love and beyond: 2015 goals

I’m not a resolution person – I prefer to set goals. If you don’t follow through with a resolution, it feels like failure – goals can be broken into smaller pieces and it feels like an accomplishment when you complete something leading to that bigger goal.

Goals can include places to go, things to do, ideas to follow through on – that’s where I’m going with this list: exploration, self-improvement and business improvement.

Personal:
  • Declutter the house – a strange thing has happened: I’ve become an HGTV addict (and not just because the Scott Brothers are easy on the eyes…but it helps!). I’ve been in my home going on 15 years, and I’m getting the redecorating bug. Part of that bug includes getting rid of some “stuff” – you know, “stuff.”
  • Stay healthy – I’m at a crossroads when it comes to fitness: to stay with my gym or ditch it altogether. My favorite instructor is no longer at my gym, and I’m not sure the other instructors have what it takes to keep me interested. Leaving the gym would be cheaper, and I’ve got plenty of DVDs and equipment to keep me occupied at home…so while I make the decision, I’ve just got to keep on doing what I’m doing.
  • Cook and bake more – I have another addiction: baking blogs…and cookbooks! I need to use my kitchen more often than I do – I love being there, but just don’t seem to have the time, which leads me to…
  • More “me” time – when painting my nails becomes a chore, it’s time to step back and find some time for myself! All of the above items will only get done if I take more time for myself.

Business:
  • Revamp my website – I’d had the same website look for at least three years, but now I want to focus the site less on writing and more on photography. I’ll still have links to my writing samples, but as I start covering more races and traveling more, I want to focus on the photography end of my business.
  • Improve social media presence – I’ve gotten really good at posting things to Pinterest, and I’m getting better with Facebook…I’m not a huge fan of self-promotion on Facebook, because I don’t want to flood people’s timelines, so I try to focus things on my fan pages.
  • Kick off photography business – now that I’m getting more comfortable covering races, I want to focus on getting some business from drivers, teams, series and tracks.
  • Set a publishing schedule and keep it! – this has been tough, as I’ve been balancing my pieces for Examiner with blog posting and photography work – oh, and the full-time job, which is especially painful at this time of year. I will get better!

Travel:
  • Third trip to Yankee Stadium – so far, it looks like a go – I need to get there again before too many more plaques go up in Monument Park!
  • Visit 10 or more race tracks – last season, I hit seven, plus a museum. I think this is totally doable.
  • Explore Buffalo – each year, I get to see a little bit more of the area I’ve lived in my entire life but have never really explored.
  • Keep up with travel posts – this links in with my business goals as well. Last year, I missed a couple of trips, so the goal is to get this year’s explorations up within a week if possible


What are your goals for 2015?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 Queen City Roller Girls schedule

credit: www.qcrg.net
Buffalo loves ALLLLL sports – including roller derby! The Queen City Roller Girls are moving to Buffalo Riverworks, located at 359 Ganson St, in downtown Buffalo, for the 2015 season – the ninth season overall.

Buffalo Riverworks is the reimagined GLF grain mill site, now serving as a multi-purpose facility. According to the description on the Roller Girls’ website:
The 60,000 foot indoor event center will feature multiple bars & restaurants, a 5,000 person concert venue, theatrical productions, a 1,500 person banquet facility, and space for trade shows, corporate events, and conventions. The 50,000 square foot covered outdoor ice rinks serve as a venue for pond-hockey, roller hockey (in summer), box lacrosse, and curling leagues. An additional on-site brewery (from the folks behind the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery) will serve the center and a beach beer garden located in the ruins of former grain silos. The entire site is located a mere half mile from the First Niagara Center and Canalside and is along the Buffalo River including waterfront docks for recreational boaters.
I’m hoping to get down to a Roller Girls match this season and explore the facility and check out the sport!
  • Friday, February 6, 2015 – Suicidal Saucies vs. Nickel City Knockouts
  • Friday, February 13, 2015 – Devil Dollies vs. Alley Kats
  • Friday, February 27, 2015 – Alley Kats vs. Nickel City Knockouts
  • Saturday, March 7, 2015 – Roc City Roc Stars vs. Lake Effect Furies
  • Friday, March 13, 2015 – Suicidal Saucies vs. Devil Dollies
  • Saturday, March 21, 2015 – DC Rollergirls vs. Lake Effect Furies
  • Friday, March 27, 2015 – Nickel City Knockouts vs. Devil Dollies
  • Friday, April 3, 2015 – Alley Kats vs. Suicidal Saucies
  • Friday, April 10, 2015 – Alley Kats vs. Devil Dollies
  • Saturday, April 18, 2015 – Steel Hurtin’ vs. Lake Effect Furies
  • Friday, April 24, 2015 – Nickel City Knockouts vs. Suicidal Saucies
  • Friday, May 1, 2015 – Nickel City Knockouts vs. Alley Kats
  • Friday, May 8, 2015 – Devil Dollies vs. Suicidal Saucies
  • Friday, May 22, 2015 – Devil Dollies vs. Nickel City Knockouts
  • Friday, May 29, 2015 – Suicidal Saucies vs. Alley Kats
  • Friday, June 12, 2015 – QCRG Playoffs Doubleheader
  • Friday, June 19, 2015 – QCRG Cup Championship
Information about tickets and starting times will be announced soon – check out www.qcrg.net for more details.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 in review

2014 was a busy year and a year of slowing down. I lost some of my online writing platforms due to site closures, so I slowed down in writing, but it also made me take a look at what I was doing – and where I really wanted to go.

I enjoy writing, but my first love was always photography. The two have naturally gelled together for me, and in becoming more confident in my photography after all these years, I wanted to display it more often. I ended the racing season by covering three racing events: the U.S. Open weekend at Lancaster Speedway (which turned into more than one weekend!), the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series race at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge and the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified Series race at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. I love covering local racing, and I’m going to put some added emphasis on it in the coming year.

Sportsman class - 9/20/14 - US Open at Lancaster Speedway
I made it to seven races tracks in 2014 – Lancaster, Rolling Wheels, Syracuse, Holland, Oswego, Pocono and Watkins Glen. After missing The Glen for a couple seasons, it was great to get back there, and to see a first-time winner in AJ Allmendinger. I also got to meet up with a couple of online co-workers at Pocono for an impromptu Skirts & Scuffs meet-up.

My other love, in both writing and photography, is Buffalo. As Marv Levy once said, “Where would you rather be than right here right now?” – I’m happy to be able to witness the rebirth of this great area in the eyes of the nation and the world. I finally made it to Canalside this summer, but so much has happened since I was there, a winter visit may be in order (ice bikes, anyone?). I visited the Japanese Garden and the Buffalo History Museum, the Botanical Gardens (of course!), Fontana Boathouse, City Hall and Silo City – before it got its six-pack! I checked out a number of garden walks, and finally got to see the wonderful gardens of blogger Jim Charlier of Art of Gardening, as well as some cool Garden Walk Buffalo garden art, on a bus tour with Sally Cunningham.

Silo City
Sometimes it felt like my gardens were taking over my life – in a way, they were, because I had a bumper crop of veggies that saved me some money on salad fixins’. I always say gardening is my therapy, and it doesn’t cost as much as a doctor! (well, maybe…)

I got to say goodbye to Derek Jeter in Toronto and Cleveland – a huge part of my life left the field with him. I also got to cheer as Joe Torre was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – me and thousands of my closest friends.

Life felt so busy, especially during the summer, that I feel like I forget a bunch of stuff – and I probably did. But this was the stuff that stuck out for 2014 – now, onward and upward, to new adventures in 2015!

December 2014 in review

Let me first say I’m sorry to all of you who wanted a white Christmas – for me, such a concept is overrated! I was completely happy to see temperatures creeping up on the 60s on Christmas Eve – it makes my life a little easier.

Of course, things got a little dicey on New Year’s Eve, when everyone wanted to be outside watching the ball drop (or guitar if you were in Niagara Falls). I stayed in, wondering if work was in my future…

credit: freedigitalphotos.net
December was all about the holidays – getting together with family, decorating, gifting, indulging (for which I need to get back on track in January!) and lots of time off from work. One of my indulgences was going to see Lorrie Morgan at the Seneca Allegany Casino at the beginning of the month – because the package included a casino buffet! After lunch, I ate nothing…

Then I got to meet one of my all-time favorite Buffalo Sabres, Clint Malarchuk, at a book signing at Barnes & Noble – check that out here.

I also made it to my fourth movie of the year – which is unheard of, it used to be one movie every four years – when I went to see the third installment of The Hobbit, which I pre-gamed for by watching the first two in the series, and post-gamed with the Lord of the Rings trilogy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This sudden onslaught on movies I want to see continues in 2015 with a new Terminator film, the final Hunger Games installment and the new Star Wars franchise (at least!).

I also got to see my little cousin and future all-star play hockey for the first time – for someone who just started skating in September, I’m impressed!

Future all-star!
And finally, I got to the Botanical Gardens for the Poinsettia Show – so much color and too many decorating ideas!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Buffalo Bandits schedule

Bandits open practice 2013
credit: paulathompsonfreelance.com
The Buffalo Bandits kick off their 18-game 2015 National Lacrosse League schedule on Friday, January 2nd with a road game against the New England Black Wolves – a team formerly known to Bandits faithful as the Philadelphia Wings.
  • Friday, January 2nd – on the road against the New England Black Wolves – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 3rd – at home in the First Niagara Center against the Edmonton Rush – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 17th – on the road against the Vancouver Stealth – 10 p.m. ET
  • Friday, January 23rd – on the road against the Toronto Rock – 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, January 30th – at home against the Minnesota Swarm – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 31st – on the road against the Rochester Knighthawks – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 7th – on the road against the Calgary Roughnecks – 10 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, February 14th – at home against the Rochester Knighthawks – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 21st – on the road against the Rochester Knighthawks – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 28th – at home against the Colorado Mammoth – 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, March 13th – at home against the Toronto Rock – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14th – on the road against the Toronto Rock – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 21st – at home against the Minnesota Swarm – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 4th – at home against the New England Black Wolves – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 11th – on the road against the Minnesota Swarm – 8 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, April 25th – at home against the Vancouver Stealth – 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 26th – on the road against the New England Black Wolves – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 2nd – at home against the New England Black Wolves – 7:30 p.m.


Find out about tickets and ticket packages at www.bandits.com