Olivia’s Top Three: Summer Solstice

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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

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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. 

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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

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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.)

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Relevant: Billy and Pat.

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Change

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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.