Life Lately & Long Form

This summer has absolutely flown by! I know we still have about a month left, but I am leaving my summer job in just a week, followed by two weeks of vacation in the Poconos (AKA using my parents’ laundry, AC, and fridge) and then on the 23rd I’m off to Harrisburg.

In the last four years I’ve bounced between rural Pennsylvania, Queens, Rome and Western New York, and now I’ll be getting to know urban PA in the state capital.

DSC05179

The hood ornament on a vintage Pierce Arrow, a car manufactured in Buffalo.

I love new places, but I detest moving and that’s probably what I’ll spend this weekend doing.

Last weekend a friend of Rick’s from school visited and we had a nice time doing all the touristy things in Niagara Falls and around East Aurora, as well as Canalside and of course the Made in America Store.

I’ve been reading a lot of long-form/longer journalism lately (is that what’s in, or is it me?) and here are a few of the best pieces I’ve found:

To those who are hungry for real, well-researched news–which it seems like many are, based on what I see and hear–it’s out there. And it’s worth finding it.

I’ve also been really into email newsletters (I know, so 2009) so I may share my favorites soon!

Olivia’s Top Three: Celebrate Food

Hi everyone!

Last week, I didn’t get around to doing a “top three” because of the holiday.

We had a three-day weekend and wanted to go home for Independence Day, but our ancient, dilapidated Buick was old and grumpy and reluctant to start, and definitely would not have weathered the trip.

So on Thursday afternoon, after working from 6-3 so we got a full day in, we went and successfully navigated buying a grown-up car that has air conditioning, brake lights, all four windows, etc, and then we bought 40 chicken nuggets to celebrate and drove the five hours home.

It was worth it to get to see the whole family, however briefly (I think that the five of us+Rick+Ben’s girlfriend were all under one roof for less than 12 hours), and we got a few crucial things like marriage counseling and fingerprinting for work checked off the to-do list.

Anyway, this weekend looks to be a nice one, with good weather all around, which is a welcome change.

My first pick is the Taste of Buffalo food festival, a huge celebration that’s one of the largest in the United States. We went to this last year, and to my surprise Rick was insistent that we go again.

After that, I want to check out a Buffalo classic, Shakespeare in the Park. It’s the last weekend for Romeo and Juliet, and I’m really disappointed we haven’t made it yet.

Finally, in Delaware Park on Sunday, Buffalo is hosting something called Buffalo’s Largest Picnic. I LOVE picnics and I love that this is just a little bit out there. Plus, any meal made up of cheese, wine and fruit can’t be bad, right??

I also haven’t gotten a chance to explore Delaware Park, which was famously designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, and I’m excited to see more of that.

Here’s to a relaxing weekend full of nice weather and good food!

Olivia’s Top Three: Art, Ghosts and God

art festival

Hello again!

This weekend is a busy one here in East Aurora. Saturday and Sunday is the Roycroft Art Festival, which features a huge number of juried artisans who are affiliated with the Roycroft Revival. I am not really in the market for nice art just yet, but it’s fun to look.

More importantly, several other events are held in conjunction with the festival. My two favorite are the book sale at the Presbyterian church and the jumble sale at the UMC, which includes strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream. 

So this weekend’s top three are: 

Art

I hope the weather holds so we can bike around, but if not I still want to make sure to buy some books and eat some shortcake. There are also several workshops in conjunction with the art part of the festival, which would be fun.

Ghosts

I’m going on a Haunted History Ghost Walk tonight! I don’t believe in ghosts (yet) (just kidding) but it’ll be a fun perspective on the history of East Aurora. I hope to be scared!

God

Ever heard of a Mass Mob

Someone came up with the brilliant idea of holding events every month or so where a whole bunch of people agree to attend the same church on the same Sunday. The idea is that struggling/older parishes get some publicity and attendance, while people get to experience something new and see art and architecture that they wouldn’t have otherwise. 

I love churches (up there with libraries and museums) and although we haven’t been getting up early, I’m going to try extra-hard this week because it’s the only one in Buffalo this summer, and in Harrisburg I’m committed to St. Stephen’s. 

Bonus

I’m hoping that after the Mass in Buffalo we’ll have the motivation to get on our bikes and check out the Outer Harbor. It was pouring last week at Canalside, and we didn’t bother to put on the bike rack. 

///

So far this has definitely been helping to get me off the couch on the weekends, and it’s also encouraging me to try new things. It’s strange because we have all of our favorites from last summer that I love, but at the same time we only have a few months here so we better explore. 

Related:

-Last year’s art festival

Something Saturdays, a blog I recently discovered that’s all about weekend adventuring!

Biking East Aurora

nature

I am extraordinarily sedentary. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like to move, I’m just content not to do so.

East Aurora, on the other hand, is a town of walkers and bikers and skateboarders and people who generally enjoy moving, and we only own one car, so I am learning to embrace physical activity.

Rick chickened out of the Naked Bike Ride, due to the legal implications, and instead we went on a long ride around the town, finally getting around to checking out Majors Park and Cazenovia Creek.

Besides the necessary commute, I’ve been more interested in biking lately thanks to this bad boy:

cruiser bike

A bright pink cruiser that’s just fun to ride. With my notebook in the basket, every day is an adventure in the life of Olivia Cunningham, Girl Reporter.

bike basket pathAlthough I don’t think I’ll ever be called athletic, I’m enjoying being active more than I thought I would, and this summer’s mix of low stress, accountability, necessary movement and adventure have been good.

 

Olivia’s Top Three: Summer Solstice

IMG_4659

I’m back, with the three things I most want to do this weekend! I left the office early today for the town museum, where I figured I’d spend a few minutes doing research…of course, I ended up researching for hours. So this is a wee bit late.

Without further ado, this weekend I’d like to check out:

Summer Solstice Fire Ceremony

There is a local group holding this and it sounds interesting. I’m always up for a new adventure, especially on the longest day of the year. The only caveat is if it rains.

Check out Canalside

Apparently this is the place to be in Buffalo. While we haven’t stopped by yet, I’d like to maybe pack a picnic and spend the afternoon relaxing in the park. Again, rain pending!

Jazz + Beer

I’m not sure you could come up with two things Rick likes more than jazz and beer (he’s a regular Ron Swanson) and 189 Public House is another place here in EA that we haven’t gotten to yet. Going to this jazz afternoon on Sunday sounds like the perfect way to cap off a weekend. 

 

Public Espresso: Yes Please

IMG_4665

Public Espresso, a niche little coffee bar located in the Lafayette Hotel in central Buffalo, was on my weekend bucket list last week, and I’m so glad we made it.

I had a cappuccino, which was perfect; I often drink sugar in cappuccino, but the milk was so sweet and perfectly steamed that I didn’t need it here.

Rick had a Colombian pour-over. This is far from plain drip coffee; it was made in a sort of single-serve Chemex beaker and served on a little tray with the glass pitcher of coffee and a cup. My family loves coffee, and Mama even roasts her own organic fair-trade wholesale beans, which we grind fresh, but Public Espresso made the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever had. It was incredibly flavorful and not bitter at all.

We also had an oatmeal cookie (not sweet, but good) and a homemade Oreo from Butter Block, which again was delicious and not overly sugary. They also source pastries from Elm Street Bakery here in East Aurora, which is one of my all-time favorites.

The Hotel Lafayette itself is beautiful and full of architectural details, and thanks to the lobby there is plenty of seating and tables, even though the coffee bar itself is just a bar. I will be back, and I 10/10 recommend Public Espresso!

The Roycroft Campus Tablet Tour

The Appian Way at the Roycroft

The Appian Way at the Roycroft

We had a very productive weekend; making little tiny bucket lists seems to be working!

One of the things that I wanted to do this weekend was to take a tour of the Roycroft campus, which is a local attraction that is on the National Historic Register. I knew that the campus, which takes up a couple of blocks in the center of town, was significant in the history of the American Arts and Crafts movement, but that’s about all I knew, and I am pleased to report that I learned a lot.

We chose to take the tablet tour, which is a brand-new offering. We never officially took a tour last summer, primarily because they cost $15+ per person, and that’s just a little too much for intern budgets. The tablet tour is only $10 and the two of us were easily able to share one. It’s also self-guided, which was nice because we could go at our own pace, fast-forward the parts that weren’t as interesting, and rewind if we missed something.

The king of the Roycroft is Elbert Hubbard, who was a character. 

elbert hubbard

Photo//Wikimedia

Elbert facts:

  • Did really well as a traveling salesman
  • Founded a printing organization, printed two magazines
  • The print shop expanded into an organization called the Roycrofters, which was half commune and half medieval artisan’s guild. Our house actually used to be a boarding house for visitors to the Roycroft, and our backyard was a stable.
  • Had a love child with the boarder, married her eight years later
  • Proclaimed that Jesus was an anarchist
  • Decided that he should go talk to the Kaiser about how to avoid WWI, headed out with his wife on the Lusitania, died when it sank.
  • He was a socialist, an anarchist, eminently quotable and most famous for “A Message to Garcia,” his description of a soldier who had to search out a Cuban general.

The Roycroft (a portmanteau of “royal” and “craft”) languished for a long time after his death, and then experienced a renaissance. You can now see the Powerhouse, the Copper Shop, the chapel, the print shop and many other bits of history on the campus. There is an operating inn and a restaurant, which are quite nice.

We were only the second group to take the tablet tour, which consists of a large laminated map and a series of videos that correspond with different points. The videos were out of order, which was irritating, and there was a lot of glare on the screen, since we were out on a bright Saturday afternoon. However, I’m very pleased with our economical choice and the amount of information that we received.

If you’re ever looking for something to occupy an hour or so in East Aurora, and you like historic buildings (I love historic buildings, which Rick thinks is weird), try the tablet tour!

Olivia’s Top Three: Arts, Crafts and Coffee

roycroft

Welcome to a new summer series! This summer I’m exploring Western New York (again) and each Friday I’ll be sharing my top three picks for weekend activities in the area. 

Coffee

First on my list this weekend is Public Espresso (priorities, right?). I started following this coffee place a while ago on Instagram, and everything they serve looks amazing. They also offer treats from a variety of area bakeries, including my very favorite Elm Street. It’s located in the Hotel Lafayette in Buffalo. One thing that they recommend is the uber-trendy cold brew, which I would like to start making at home.

Biking

While I’m enjoying coffee, the Boyfriend–who I guess is now the fiance? Weird. Maybe I’ll just call him Rick, which is his name. 

…anyway, he loves biking and renewable energy, and wants to participate in the Buffalo World Naked Bike Ride. This is an event where people ride bikes around the city wearing little to no clothing, ostensibly to show their support for not being dependent on oil, etc. This is 100 percent not my style, but I am young and foolish so I will go and watch. Photos to come…maybe.

History

Lastly, the Roycroft Campus is a centerpiece of East Aurora and a National Historic Landmark (I think). It’s now offering tablet tours, which are slightly cheaper than guided tours and self-paced, and I’d like to try one this weekend. I’m looking forward to learning more about what the Roycroft actually is.

(What I know: it’s a really pretty and architecturally fascinating part of town; Elbert Hubbard and his wife died in the Lusitania sinking; Elbert was pretty quotable and his words appear on a lot of the trash cans around town. What I think: it’s the home of a commune that was the beginning of the Arts and Crafts movement, an important phase in America that has nothing to do with paint and glitter glue.)

###

Relevant: Billy and Pat.

Also: follow me on Twitter and Insta for regular updates about my adventures.

Change

lanterns nyc

I do not do well with change.

My family (especially Dad—I’m looking at you, Douglas) knows this and loves to mention it. It is a well-documented phenomenon, from the time that I pitched a fit over a non-traditional Christmas tree that my mom tried to slip by when I was two, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I like to think that over the years I’ve gotten better about change, but it’s still something to which I am averse. 

This year, though, I knew change was coming. This was the year of Big Decisions, and Real Life, and Change. 

I didn’t pick a “word to live by” at the New Year’s, like so many mom bloggers do, but if I had it would have been Change. 

Rick decided to change it up big on New Year’s Eve, when he proposed. Then I spent five short months working jobs I loved and going to school and interning, which was wonderful but also, I spent a lot of time being overwhelmed and curling into a ball with Hulu and Chinese food. 

Then I graduated. 

Now, I’m back in East Aurora, the town too twee to be real, and back at the Advertiser. I love local news and I love only working 35 hours a week (may a regular job always feel like a luxury!). I’m also managing social media this summer, which is a whole new challenge. I have been learning a lot and reading more timely content than I have in ages and it’s glorious.

At the end of August I’ll be moving to Harrisburg, where I will be joining Sycamore House, an outpost of the Episcopal Service Corps. I’ll be working four days a week at an undetermined nonprofit, spending the fifth day in spiritual formation, and living in community with six other girls. It’s an adventure, and it’s scary to be doing the new city-new job-new people routine again, but I think I made the right choice. 

Sometimes, change is good. 

The Louvre Recap

There are three main art museums in Paris: the Louvre, which houses “very old art” (the technical term), including some superfamous statues and the world’s most overrated painting; the Musee D’Orsay, which has “medium old” art, like impressionists; and the Pompidou Center, which has modern art and deserves a post of its own…let me just say that it was built as a work of modern art itself, so all the pipes and whatnot are on the outside. This defies typical building convention, and, surprise surprise, apparently it is difficult to maintain.

easter island head louvre

The Boyfriend and I hit up the Louvre on free day, which is the first Sunday of every month, and I expected it to be kind of a nightmare crowd-wise, but it was not. Here’s my supersecret tips to navigating the Louvre, especially if you have limited time:

1. Go on free day. Save that money! The crowds aren’t that bad!

architecture louvre pyramid

2. Start at the Place de la Concorde by the other end of the Tuileries. Even in January, it was nice to wander down through the gardens toward the museum.

But beware the pigeon man. Steer clear. No one needs 5000 birds surrounding them.

I just liked the old/new contrast in this gate.

I just liked the old/new contrast in this gate.

3. Spend the money you would have used on admission on food at the Paul food cart, outside by the arch. It’s so good. We had these apricot and creme anglaise pastries and my life will never be the same, and I had a coffee which I ordered in French so it ended up being something that translated to “white American,” which turns out means an Americano with milk. 

jardins de tuileries

4. After you finish your amazing French food, head off to the left. Do not go to the pyramid, however tempting it may be. Instead, go down the stairs that look like a subway stop and into the mall that’s underneath the museum.

Yep, it’s a little weird to have a mall underneath a museum, but convenient!

Pro tip: free wifi at the Apple store (and Starbucks…but really? Starbucks in Paris?).

Take your DaVinci code photos by the inverted pyramid and head inside through your newfound secret mall entrance, where you should immediately get a map. 

louvre pyramid

5. Do not plan to see everything. You are setting yourself up to fail. Instead, pick a couple of pieces or periods that you’d like to see and head there first, and that way everything else you encounter will be a nice bonus.

louvre statue

6. The Mona Lisa. Ahhhh.

It’s always crowded.

It’s always crowded by tall people taking innumerable photos at the very front.

It’s surprisingly small.

Instead, turn around and take in the pleasantly large painting on the wall behind you, which is my favorite in the whole Louvre. It depicts the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus did his first miracle.

This is the best shot I have of it, unfortunately.

This is the best shot I have of it, unfortunately.

7. Most of all, enjoy yourself! After the museum, it was getting dark outside so we had a nice sunset stroll along the Seine as we walked up to the Eiffel Tower. 

the seine at sunset

Gratuitous Eiffel Tower shot. You're welcome.

Gratuitous Eiffel Tower shot. You’re welcome.