2018 {Year In Review}

While 2018 wasn’t the best year for the blog, we had a blast in real life.

It was our first full year in Buffalo, including our first winter and full summer. (Apparently Buffalo doesn’t have a spring or fall with climate change the way it is. I’m pretty sure it went from snow to sweltering this spring and same for the fall.)

2018 started off with travel. We celebrated a late Christmas in Seattle and loved catching up with everyone.

Brandon taught his first class during the spring semester. He taught a mere 550 inquiring minds. Overall it was a positive experience and he’s getting ready to teach the class again in early 2019.

Over the summer, we took advantage of our flexible work schedules to celebrate some of our good friends’ love, traveling to Arizona and the Hudson River Valley. Both trips were so much fun and will be their own blog posts in the coming year.

Szerwos take the Grand Canyon

Our introduction to the Finger Lakes, en route to the Hudson River Valley

 

For Father’s Day, we went camping at Letchworth State Park, a first for Michael. We went with our best Buffalo friends and enjoyed it. We hope to camp again next spring/summer.

Father’s Day camping at Letchworth 2018

We continue to explore Buffalo and have really perfected our tour for guests who visit. That’s a blog post for another day, too.

Niagara Falls: One stop on our Buffalo tour

Professionally, I launched Delaware Park Living in September. It’s a monthly neighborhood newsletter magazine for the residents of one of the most established communities in Buffalo. I’m the publisher of the publication, which means I get to work with the residents, business sponsors, and our central design team to make a beautiful 30-40 page magazine each month.

Presenting: Delaware Park Living

Halloween 2018 was pretty epic. I went all out and created an award-winning (seriously! I won $100 for it!) Mater costume for Michael. He continues to love playing in it. I’m working on a “how to” tutorial for the costume as there isn’t a complete one currently online. Brandon and I phoned it in and were both Waldo. We’ve already started thinking about Halloween 2019 costumes though.

Where’s Waldo? Hanging out in Buffalo!

Halloween costumes

Mater with his two besties

Michael’s day-time costume: Captain America.

Captain America with his super squad

We finished up the year with a pre-Christmas holiday trip to NYC. We’ve been there before and seeing it in all of its holiday splendor was magical. We caught up with friends, shopped the holiday pop-up markets, rode through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage while sipping hot chocolate, and walked more than 13 miles one day, among lots of other fun things. I think we should make it an annual tradition!

Rockefeller Plaza all done up for the holidays

The only thing missing was snow! {Central Park Carriage Ride}

Merry Christmas from NYC!

We’re actually looking forward to our Buffalo winter and the snow, and all of the adventures we have planned for 2019. We can’t wait to share them with you. More posts in 2019, I promise.

What’s Michael doing these days?

Our 3.25 year old is SO active. He loves running and jumping and can move for hours… unless you want him to walk beside you on a neighborhood walk. Then his “shoes are hard” and he requires holding.

Michael knows the alphabet (both the song and capital and lower case letter identification) and can count to 20.

He’s back in swim lessons and getting more and more comfortable bobbing underwater. He loves school and has several best friends.

He’s sweet and sassy and still even likes to snuggle sometimes. Michael learned Christmas carols this year and his favorite song is Jingle Bells which he’s recently re-titled to “Jingle Smells.” He’s been using the potty since his third birthday and loves using potty words any chance he can (toot, tooty, poop, poopy, etc).

Fall bucket list {2018}

I feel like I just wrote our summer bucket list post (which we did really well on!), but here we are: another season in the blink of an eye. Before we know it it’ll be winter! (I actually kind of liked our first Buffalo winter… call me crazy!)

Pre-snow, here’s what we’d like to do with our fall:

Actually decorate for fall.

I picked up some very large mums and the main components to make a friendly scarecrow for our front porch. The Jack ‘O Lantern lights and spiders Michael made last year are already up on the mantle and over the weekend Michael also did his annual wood painting. Last year it was leaves. This year, a pumpkin. (Available at Target.)

Painting pumpkins!

Painting pumpkins!

Go apple picking and make all of the apple things.

We celebrated the first day of fall a couple of weeks ago by apple picking! (Post forthcoming.) We we’ve already been eating all of the apple things. Mark this one accomplished!

Apple picking at Sanger Farms

Apple picking at Sanger Farms

Visit a pumpkin patch — and pick some late-season raspberries!

We had a lot of fun last year and looked forward to doing it again this year. We had an out of town visitor last weekend, so we hit up Greg’s U-Pick and picked three pints of raspberries. They were delicious!! We’re scheduled to go pumpkin patch’ing this weekend!

Late-season raspberry picking!

Go leaf-peeping

Last year we peeped leaves in Ellicottville. This year? I’m thinking Canada and taking a leisurely trip to and from Toronto! Chestnut Ridge Park is also supposed to be pretty pretty this time of year. Maybe head back to Knox State Farm? These mid-October photos are some of my favorites!

Stop the presses: We found a FALL FOLIAGE TRAIN TOUR! We’re so doing this. Yes.

Last year…

Impromptu fall photo shoot in 2017

Fall foliage at Knox Farm {circa 2017}

Halloween dinner party and trick-or-treating

We’re having friends over for Halloween trick or treating and I want to plan and execute a really fun, festive, easy dinner. Tell me what you might be dining on this Halloween, so I can borrow your ideas! Thank you in advance.

Happy fall, y’all!

Our Buffalo summer top 5 list

Now that we’re officially into summer, and with this being our first summer in Buffalo, we put together our Buffalo summer top 5 list: (in no particular order)

1. Eat local: berry picking & shop the farmer’s market

Brandon and I have been picking berries for years — blueberries and raspberries are our favorites, since the picking is easy (no bending required) — and Western NY has a ton of u-pick farms. Last summer we picked raspberries, apples, and pumpkins and we went strawberry-picking a few weeks ago — perfect for a 3 foot tall individual… far less bending…

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick Farm in Clarence NY

Berry picking is in Michael’s blood!

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick Farm in Clarence NY

Yum! Strawberries!

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick

Michael loved strawberry picking

We’ve also been loving all of the farmer’s markets in WNY and have made a point to buy whatever fruits and veggies (that we’re not picking) at the local farmer’s markets. We’re having fun and really enjoying the food!

2. Patio happy hours 

Winter in Buffalo wasn’t as bad as we expected (knock on wood!) but now that summer is here — there wasn’t a spring, it was skipped this year — we’re ready to enjoy the heat and humidity that is summer in Buffalo. We’re looking forward to tackling this (year old) list of patio happy hours this summer. Sun + drink & food specials + kid in school = an excellent time.

3. Camping 

We’re already making progress on this item with our recent camping trip at Letchworth Park. It’s been 10+ years since I camped and was Michael’s first time. All-in-all, we enjoyed it. It was ~10 degrees colder than we expected at night, so we have a better idea of what to pack for next time. Also, friendly skunks and raccoons aren’t cool.

Letchworth State Park 2018

Father’s Day camping trip to Letchworth State Park

We’re looking forward to checking out: Four-Mile Creek State Park, the Adirondacks (maybe Cranberry Lake with Michael’s BFF?!), around the Finger Lakes (maybe some glamping through The Quiet Place?) and any other parks you recommend in the comments below.

4. Pool time 

We moved to Buffalo and discovered the splash park with only a week left of summer. Michael loved it and was so excited for his first visit on the 4th of July. The hours are a little wonky and really cut into nap time, but we’ll get there as often as we can!

Clearfield Pool

Michael’s new happy place

5. Play tourist

Buffalo was ranked one of the 52 places to visit this year by the New York Times. While my job allows me to drive around and explore a lot, it’s not quite the same without my boys. So, I’ve been keeping track of places I want to show to them. Here are of a few of the places I’ve already found and some that I’m eager to explore:

What am I missing? Fill me in, Buffalo. We’re still new here and know we have a ton left to do!

National Doughnut Day {2018}

This week we’ll celebrate National Doughnut Day on Friday, June 1.

It seems like there is a new National ____ Day every day, but this is a holiday we can really get behind as doughnuts are some of our favorite foods.

In Seattle, we had our favorite shops and doughnuts: Top Pot (maple old-fashioned, apple fritter) and Daily Dozen Doughnuts (assorted dozen or a dozen sprinkled).

We love Daily Dozen Doughnuts so much they made an appearance in our wedding photos! {Photo by Mike Fiechtner Photography}

We were sad to leave them, but pleased to find that Buffalo is a doughnut city too! Buffalo also fancies itself an expert in wings (duh), pizza (the greasier, the better), and ice cream (it’s so good! That’s for another post!), among others.

We’ve sampled most of the doughnut-eries in Buffalo and Donut Kraze is hands-down our favorite shop. Brandon doesn’t have a favorite doughnut yet and always tries the classic or seasonal favorites. Michael always gets the white cake doughnut with frosting and sprinkles. I opt for the blueberry old-fashioned (it’s like eating just the crispy parts of a blueberry muffin) and a bagel egg sandwich that I share with Michael.

Weekend breakfast goals.

Michael and his favorite breakfast

As you get ready to celebrate National Doughnut Day the best way you know how, let me offer some ideas and recipes I found on the internet that are sure to be your new favorites:

Travel the Ohio Donut Trail with us? We’re legitimately looking into a trip…

S’more doughnuts

Triple dipped chocolate peanut butter doughnuts: Two of Brandon’s favorite flavors!

Catnip doughnut with pink frosting: I met the owner of this Etsy shop at Craft Camp last year and fell in love with her catnip toys, especially this doughnut!

If you still haven’t had your fill of doughnuts yet, keep reading some of my favorite doughnut posts:

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

As we continue to adjust to the city of never-ending winter, I mean, Buffalo, we went on a mission to find spring a few weeks ago.

We didn’t have to go far, just 30 minutes south from our house, to find the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

We found spring!

Stopping to smell the flowers

Cheese!

Warmth and pretty, pretty flowers!

Family photo!

To be fair, this post was drafted last weekend during our freezing rain bout, which was then followed by our first 70 degree day in exactly six months, and there is snow in the forecast tomorrow!

I’ve been told that it has snowed plenty of times in May here, so I’m not putting away my snow clothes quite yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s dose of vitamin D!

 

 

 

 

 

2018 resolutions

As I think about my resolutions or goals for this year, the usuals come to mind: exercise more, eat healthier, sleep more.  Then I  popped over to Pinterest and searched “2018 resolutions.” Lots of content and this one really struck me:

2018 resolutions

Here are my thoughts. Once I publish this post, they will become commitments to myself for 2018. 

Sleep more. I definitely want to adjust my bedtime from 11/11:30 p.m. down, closer to 10/10:30 p.m. Do I really need to be awake that extra hour? The Daily Show is already being recorded. I don’t need to watch it live.

Self care. My friend Anna posted about self care on her FB recently. Physically I’m big on pedicures, but I usually scrimp on lotions, potions, and other tools to keep me looking and feeling my best. I finally found a stylist in Buffalo, so my hair is looking good again. I will continue to drink lots of water, and I hope to incorporate more activity (exercise, movement in general) in my everyday life in 2018. I also hope to read more. I just finished Origin by Dan Brown and highly recommend it. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in basically three days of travel. What books should I pick up next?

Explore more. My new job gives me the opportunity to meet lots of new people in our new city, and find all sorts of cool shops and neighborhoods. I hope to continue this local exploration, but also explore up and down the east coast this year. Toronto and Montreal are also on our list. With the sub-freezing temps and constant snow flurries, we’ve been hibernating and need to get our list ready for the spring and beyond.

I think that’s it for me. No wacky food resolutions. No crazy crafts. Just me focusing on me. What do you have planned for 2018?

 

2017 year in review

What a year it’s been!

As 2017 began, we had no idea where the year would take us. Brandon continued interviewing, traveling to New Orleans, Phoenix, Reno, and Buffalo. After accepting a position with the University at Buffalo in March, we were able to start our Seattle Bucket List and get everything in order to move across the country and remodel and rent our Seattle home.

While we were waiting for Brandon’s offer, we explored the west coast. Michael continued his love of travel with a visit to Santa Barbara to celebrate his Great Grandpa Joe’s 95th birthday and meet some of his extended Szerwo relatives. We also put our passport to good use and traveled to Bliss Landing on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, one of Brandon’s favorite places. In May, we marked Mt Rainier National Park off of our bucket list for a fun Mother’s Day trip with my parents.

Bliss Landing, British Columbia

Michael’s first sandy beach: Santa Barbara, CA

Junior Ranger: Michael!

2017 was also the year that we found out that Michael had allergies: both food and pet. We were able to figure out his food sensitivities and can avoid his main allergen (soy) pretty well. Unfortunately, his cat and dog allergy meant that the cats wouldn’t make the trip to Buffalo with us and we found a great home for them. Their new Cat Mom is wonderful and she continues to send at-least-weekly updates, which I love. Everyone is happier with the new arrangement but me.

I love these cats!!

We experienced more of the wrapping up of our life in Seattle, with Megan leaving the City of Seattle at the end of May and Brandon graduating from UW in June.

Professor Szerwo.

After saying good bye to our family and friends, a quick jaunt to Idaho to visit Brandon’s parents, and setting the remodel of our Seattle home in motion, we were off!

Our epic road trip took us through 14 states, traveling more than 3300 miles in 11 days. Epic road-tripping with a 1.75-year-old you say? It’s totally doable. We definitely had our ups and downs, but we had so much fun that we would actually do it again! We visited national parks (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, and Wind Cave), national monuments (Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Devil’s Tower), other national things (Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site), and even a couple of can’t-miss roadside attractions (the Crazy Horse monument, Corn Palace, and Wall Drug in South Dakota, and a larger-than-life Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota).

Some days were better than others. Michael was only crying because we made him stop exploring the rocks at the base of Devil’s Tower.

We landed in Buffalo, toured the house we bought the next day, and got ready for our next big adventure!

Our new Buffalo home

Since relocating, we’ve kept our travel fairly local to Buffalo, including a trip to NYC in September to cheer on our beloved UW Huskies (and check off more national park service sites (Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island national monuments) and another new state for Michael (New Jersey)!).

Playing tourist in NYC

In October, I started as an Area Director with N2 Publishing. I’m currently ramping up a neighborhood newsletter in the Delaware Park neighborhood in Buffalo. I used to write for our N2 newsletter on Mercer Island and knew I wanted to work with them after we moved.

Michael took swim lessons and has discovered he’s a fish. (It only took 5 weeks of tearful lessons to discover!) We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and we enjoyed seeing Alton Brown as a part of UB’s Distinguished Speaker series.

Michael’s turned two in September and we celebrated with all of our new friends! We have developed some great friendships here already and had a wonderful backyard BBQ for Michael’s birthday, complete with a water table and giant homemade bubbles. (Until a certain two-year-old decided to touch the very hot grill…)

Michael’s 2nd birthday

We’ve had some wonderful house guests at our new home and have the tourist routine down pretty well. We’re accepting visitors and would love to show you around our new town. Our favorites include: Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake (a quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea-esque town in Canada on the shores of Lake Ontario), downtown Buffalo, the Darwin Martin House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), and authentic Buffalo eats: beef on weck, chicken wings, sponge candy, and loads of pizza, ice cream and doughnuts. (Those are the six Buffalo food groups, we think.)

For Halloween, Michael dressed up as a Buffalo Zoo zookeeper and tried residential trick-or-treating for the first time. He made it to about 12 houses in 45 minutes, and continues to enjoy the sweets he received.

Zookeeper Michael

We trekked back to Seattle for Thanksgiving, celebrating the holiday, another Husky Apple Cup victory, and our new niece/cousin Isabella Mamiya! She and Michael were fast friends.

A visit to the market!

We’re wrapping up the year in Buffalo, and enjoying a white Christmas for the first time in a very long time.

2018 is going to be a great year with the launch of my monthly neighborhood newsletter, Brandon’s continued research and first Intro to Managerial Accounting class (550 students!) and lots of new east coast adventures!

University at Buffalo!