Monday, April 29, 2019

BfloGirlGeek: The Art of the Brick

Yes, I finally made it…

With a week left, I made it to the Buffalo Museum of Science for “The Art of the Brick,” the amazing Nathan Sawaya Lego exhibit that I have wanted to see for years - and I was not disappointed.

I may have walked around the exhibit three times…

I may have wondered – out loud – how did he come up with these things?!?! (good thing my mom was with me…)

I may be in love with Legos again…(my inner 12 year old is happy about that)

(actually, that happened when I put together this ‘67 Mustang…

…or maybe this Avengers Quinjet…)

Closing for the exhibit at the Buffalo Museum of Science is THIS WEEKEND, and the Museum is pulling an all-nighter, open from Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. straight through to Sunday, May 5 at 4 p.m. – find out more about it here.

all photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Find more photos on my Facebook page

Friday, March 29, 2019

BfloGirlGarden: Proven Harvest Edibles from Proven Winners

Last year, as part of the Proven Winners trial program, I was able to sample three new edibles that the company was releasing in 2019 under the Proven Harvest banner. The plants were Amazel Basil, Berried Treasure Strawberries and Garden Gem Tomatoes, and overall, I was very impressed.

Amazel Basil

First off, what a beautiful plant! I grew this in a large (10” diameter) ceramic floral-decorated planter, and it looked great – it would make a great filler plant in a larger container recipe.

Second, Amazel Basil is a sterile plant, so it will continue to produce new growth even if it flowers, and a little bit of flowering shouldn’t affect the taste. It is also Downy Mildew resistant.

Finally, I’m going to have to try it again, because I didn’t get to use it as much as I would’ve liked to. It was my first time growing basil, so I felt like I spent too much time looking for recipes and not enough time making them!

Berried Treasure Strawberries

I was most excited about this, because I LOOOOOVE strawberries! These were great to eat picked right off the plant, which leads to my only complaint: the berries were on the small side. They were tasty, however, and as an ever-bearing plant, quite prolific.

This plant still looks good: in September, I transplanted this from a container into a section of my veggie garden that I had pulled some old strawberry plants from (June-bearers) – then I ordered another one, and after that I ordered a Berried Treasure Flower Pillow from PW (I believe that will be 4-5 more plants for the garden next fall).

Garden Gem Tomatoes

Garden Gem is a smaller, Roma-shaped tomato (a larger, round tomato – Garden Treasure – will also be available in 2019) that, even I will admit, had good flavor. In general, I’m not a fan of tomatoes – I’ll eat them sliced thin on pizza, diced in pasta or salad, or as a sauce, but I’m not a fan of their usual pulpy texture. These weren’t pulpy – they were meaty. I was impressed, so I ordered another one for this year, as well as a Garden Treasure to try out.

I planted this – as well as the basil and strawberry plants – in containers so I could keep a better eye on them, and was impressed with the haul (about two pounds).

If you are in the Buffalo area and are interested in the Proven Harvest collection, Badding Brothers Farm Market, located at 10820 Transit Rd. in East Amherst, will be hosting a Launch Party on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, featuring demonstrations, taste tests, raffles and more.

all photos: PaulaThompsonFreelance

Monday, March 25, 2019

BfloGirlGarden: Plantasia in Paradise 2019

I’m not sure why this year felt different than others (perhaps it was the 19 straight days I worked in late January thanks to the weather…), but I am sooooo ready for spring…like, right now!

This weekend I took a stroll through this year’s edition of Plantasia – “Plantasia in Paradise” – at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, and it gave me just enough of the good feels to make it through to “real spring!”

“Paradise” included putting greens, outdoor kitchens, water features, lighting ideas and, of course, plenty of plants. There were also plenty of vendors (maybe a few too many for my taste) and lots of people (who were probably just like me – looking for spring inspo!).

A few things I noticed:
  • Garden art is still a thing (here in WNY at least!): like this guy, who would look great in Khaleesi’s Garden… 
  • “Funky geraniums” were everywhere: whether because they were available or because they’re cool (I vote for the last!), the fancy-leaf geraniums that I’ve adored for the last few years were all over the place. The multi-colored foliage looked great against the dark mulch backgrounds, but I’ve always enjoyed them in containers (because they overwinter well in my basement! #bonusplantsforthewin).
  • I need an elderberry shrub: I first saw elderberry outside of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, and fell in love with it because it looks like a Japanese maple. I found out later that it’s less expensive and more durable than Japanese maples – that sounds like a winner to me!
  • There were many different versions of “paradise” on display: for golfers, the putting green; for cooks and entertainers, the outdoor kitchen and specialty lighting. Unfortunately, I didn’t think there was enough on display for garden DIYers like me – containers, raised beds, garden art, garden-to-table growing. Hopefully soon, I’ll get to play in my own version of “paradise!”

all photos: PaulaThompsonFreelance

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

BfloGirlGarden: Five things I’ve learned from the Proven Winners trial plant program

A few years ago, when I was writing for Examiner and covering Buffalo Gardening, I was contacted by Proven Winners to be part of their trial plant program (score!). I already loved PW products and used a number of their annuals every year, so this seemed like a great way to try out some plants I might not have thought to purchase. Here are a few things I’ve learned from PW going into the 2019 gardening season (I have faith that it IS coming!!).

Experimenting with plants is fun! I would often experiment with color, but this way I learned to use different plants and had to make sure they “meshed” well  (light needs, water needs, etc.).

I really like hydrangeas. I was never really a shrub person, but I’ve really enjoyed watching these grow (I have three now). It’s also inspired me to redo the garden they’re in to give them some more room.

Clematis are crazy. I’ve had Pink Mink Clematis for four years, and I’m on my third trellis, each one larger than the last, because these things grow like mad.

Sometimes it’s good to stick with the classics. Petunias, calibrachoas and coleus just make me happy, and PW has amazing specimens of each.

Being able to give a “sneak peak” of new plants makes me feel rock-star-like. When a neighbor walks over and says “What is that?!?!” and you say “Oh, Proven Winners sent me that – it’s available next year…” #plantrockstar

After more than 100 inches of snow, I’m yearning for spring and garden season even more! Thank you Proven Winners for letting me participate in this program!

**Follow me on Instagram for random garden photos, PW trial plant updates and more!**

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

BfloGirlGeek: “The Art of The Brick” comes to Buffalo

Oh, to be a kid again…and play with Legos.

video: YouTube

Yes, I had Barbie dolls, but I also had all the building toys – Legos, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector sets – because, well, Dad wanted a boy…so he got a tomboy instead. Mom tried her best to “girlify” me, but she eventually accepted my fate in life (thanks Dad!).

My favorites among those toys were Legos.

Legos have become much more than a toy since I played with them; they’re now art, technology – even an investment in some cases. Art meets tech in a new exhibit at the Buffalo Museum of Science, located at 1020 Humboldt Pkwy. in Buffalo: “The Art of The Brick,” by artist Nathan Sawaya, opens Saturday, Feb, 9 and runs through Sunday, May 5.

The exhibit was named one of CNN’s Top Ten “Global Must-See Exhibitions,” and features not only original art by Sawaya, but reimagined versions of masterpieces like Michelangelo's Statue of David, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. There will also be a hands-on activity area within the exhibit entitled “The Science of The Brick.”

Timed tickets for the exhibit (includes museum admission and exhibit fee) are available at; tickets are $18 for adults (no ages given); $15 for children ages 2+, seniors, students and Military (with ID) (no ages given); and $5 for members.

Since this exhibit runs into May, I’m hoping Mother Nature cooperates and lets me go see this!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A little inspiration…

I’ve not been very inspired lately.

In fact, I had a blog post started early last week and was completely uninspired when it came to finishing it.

Yep, Mother Nature has a lot to do with it – I mean, come on, it was April 19th and it was still flurrying (Is that a word? It probably is in Buffalo).

My poor daffodils were confused. I don’t blame them one bit.

Writing wasn’t the only outlet I was uninspired in. There was also photography – you know, she took away two weeks of my new gig at my happy place (Lancaster Speedway)…she’s not on my nice list.

Then, suddenly, inspiration appeared.

In the form of a few birds.

Actually, some loons…and grebes…and goldeneyes…and osprey.

Work took me through UB’s North Campus last week, and the ponds off of St. Rita’s Ln. were full of migrating birds and ducks.

An oddity of Mother Nature’s wrath? Maybe.

Maybe I’ll forgive her. I’ll think about it.

See more photos on Facebook and Smugmug.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Laying Low (not by choice…)

Yep, I’ve been pretty quiet lately – not by choice, but by season. See, my real-life job is weather-influenced…as in snow-plowing. Mother Nature has not been kind to us this year (I’ve used a few choice names for her…), and particularly on the weekends, leaving me little time to do much of anything besides wait for the phone call to come into work – and little things around the house while I’m waiting (like cleaning the basement…little things, y’know?).

That’s not to say I’ve been completely quiet:
  • Christmas is my favorite holiday (in spite of the snow), and I was able to enjoy it a bit longer since I had my decorating done by the end of November.

  • I was able to do some baking (strategically between snowflakes, of course): cinnamon rolls (the post-plowing breakfast of champions!), mini pigs-in-a-blanket to keep my dad happy, and this easier-than-it-looks pane bianco (already planning to make this again).

  • I was given the amazing opportunity to live out a dream: I will spend the 2018 season as the stock car photographer at Lancaster National Speedway. Having grown up at the track and practiced photography in the stands for many years, this is an absolute #dreamgig.
  • I’ve been dreaming that this winter will end soon…

(Is it spring yet??)