Weeknight Dinner Staple: Tomato Soup

tomato soupThat winter chill’s been hitting hard the past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to channel scorching days from this summer when I never thought I could get any hotter. And even though temps are supposed to reach the 40s this week here in Buffalo (what?!), the otherwise constant presence of frigid temperatures only makes me want to stay in, curled up on the couch under a blanket with some hot soup. One of my favorites is a simple staple, tomato soup.

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Awesome Buffalo Launch

Awesome Buffalo LaunchWell hello there, all you dreamers, doers, and creative thinkers! Back in September, I wrote about bringing a chapter of The Awesome Foundation to Buffalo. Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Awesome Buffalo has officially launched, and grant applications are open! From the applications, our trustees will select five finalists to pitch their projects at a live event on Tuesday, March 28th, at 7pm in downtown Buffalo. A winner will be selected that night and will walk away with a no-strings-attached $1000 prize.

If you live in the Buffalo area and have an awesome and quirky idea that could use funding, please consider applying for one of our grants here. We’ll be accepting applications for the Spring event through March 14th.

And if you’re not a Buffalonian, but have the most totally awesome idea ever, there are 83+ chapters across 18 countries; check to see if the Awesome Foundation has a chapter in your area!  If not, maybe you will want to consider starting one, too. 🙂 

{To learn more about Awesome Buffalo, visit our chapter page on the Awesome Foundation site. To keep up with what’s happening, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.}

Intention in the New Year: A Year of Risks

Foggy country road

Heading into the fog

And just like that, it’s 2017. As they say, each new year is a blank canvas—a time to reset and refocus. Over the last couple weeks, as I’ve taken a step away from technology, work, and stress, I’ve reflected a lot about what’s important to me. I’ve considered who I am and how I’ve lived my life as of late.

With 2017 rolling right in, I’ve been reading inspiring blog posts and social media statuses about starting the new year with a word of intention. I’ve never been one to make, and stick to, resolutions. So, to me, this concept of choosing one word to live by speaks volumes.

After giving thought to where I want to be this year, the word I’ve chosen for 2017 is risk.

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A Wintry Trip to the Darwin Martin House

Darwin Martin House

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House – 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY

Since about third grade, I’ve been fascinated by architecture and, for some reason, Frank Lloyd Wright especially caught my eye. While other kids were getting Barbies and Legos for Christmas (just kidding, I was still getting Barbies too), I received books about Frank Lloyd Wright. Later, I decided architecture was more an interest than career for me, but my best friend ended up pursuing architecture in college. So, a few weeks ago while she was visiting, we took her to see one of the many architectural treasures of Buffalo, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House.

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Merry Christmas

This year’s tree situation

Merry Christmas Eve!

It’s been a minute since I’ve dropped by; my December seemed extra speedy this year without a second to spare. Did that happen to any of you?  As the holiday season approaches each year, I have such mixed feelings. Mostly, I adore it, but there’s always a small part of me that feels overwhelmingly anxious knowing how much there is to do to prepare. And I hate that I feel that way.

I try to DIY a bunch of gifts every year; I’ve always loved giving and receiving handmade gifts. This year, I had lofty plans to do the same and, in turn, produce some Christmas ideas for all of you. But, I didn’t get around to making a single gift this year. And I’m sorry about that for many reasons.

It’s time to re-prioritize, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do over the next week.

I was lucky enough to be able to take time off work, so I’m planning to step away from the screen. I need to spend time with my loved ones. I need to reflect and recharge before the coming year. I feel like I’m at a crossroads; I’m figuring out who I want to be, and what I want tracing paper to be. I know that won’t happen in a week, but I’m at a point in which it’s necessary to shut the computer down and get out there.

So now that the gifts are wrapped and the cookies are made, I’m finally taking a breath. I’m about to enjoy some hot chocolate, sit by the Christmas tree with my man, and listen to my Christmas playlist.

But before I go, I want to tell you how grateful I am to all of you for reading my blog this year. Thank you for helping to make this five-year dream a reality; it’s the best gift I could receive. This has truly been one of the most fulfilling years of my recent life. I’ve met the most kind, compassionate, and talented people through this blog of mine. tracing paper makes me feel whole; it completes me. You all complete me. (Sappy, but true, Jerry Maguire moment anyone?)

I wish you and yours the Merriest of Christmases! I hope your holidays are filled with all the things you love, and that you too get to step away from the chaos of everyday life. Give your family lots of hugs, rock those Christmas tunes like no one’s watching, and just enjoy this life.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Holiday Giveaway Winner

Christmas ornamentsThanks to everyone who entered our holiday giveaway this week. I loved reading about your favorite holiday traditions! I wish I could gift these fabulous prizes to all of you, but a winner has been selected. The lucky winner is… Jennifer from Chicago! Congratulations, Jennifer!

Is anyone else feeling like Christmas really snuck up this year? The weeks are flyin’ and I am so behind on my Christmas shopping. Hopefully the snow will hold off this weekend. My best friend from high school is flying in to visit(!), and I’m hoping we can hit up some of my favorite local shops and restaurants. So excited to show her this little city of mine.

And hey, Buffalonians! Western New York Book Arts Center is holding their annual Last Minute Holiday Panic Holiday Marketplace. I’ll surely be stopping in. If you see me there, say hello!

What do you have planned on this last weekend before Christmas? I can’t even believe there’s only one week left – eek! Hopefully you’re more together than I am and can enjoy a relaxing weekend. If not, I’ll see you fellow procrastinators in line somewhere!

{Photo by Annie Spratt.}

Holiday Giveaway (Closed)

Holiday GiveawayThis weekend, I finished up my holiday decorating; I’m officially in the Christmas spirit. So, I’m absolutely thrilled to announce my first holiday giveaway! This year, I’ve teamed up with four fabulous female-owned shops to give one of you an extra special celebration.

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Friday I’m In Love (Saturday Wait)

Winter SceneHi, hello! Fancy meeting you here on a Saturday! 

It’s been a long couple of weeks, but I’m slowly starting to feel like my normal self again, especially after another inspiring Friday morning yesterday at CreativeMornings Buffalo. If you live in the Buffalo area and haven’t been, I could list a million reasons why you should change that. Every single time I’ve attended, I’ve walked out of CreativeMornings feeling energized, motivated, and ready to create. Buffalo has so much talent and creativity. I’m awestruck. And the event spaces aren’t so bad either.

In totally unrelated news, Christmas is now only two weeks away, so there’s that. I’ll be spending this weekend decorating the house and frantically picking out Christmas gifts (all while listening to this playlist!). Are you ahead of the game or behind on your Christmas prep like me?

Here are a few things that caught my eye this week.

I adore this post from Fresh Exchange describing how their tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree changed this year with the addition of their baby boy. I love how Megan takes pause to soak in life’s little, precious moments. I know I’m sentimental, but Christmas traditions really do stick with us for a lifetime.

I’m loving this adorable and fun holiday date night idea from In a DC Minute. Home Alone really is the best! (My other favorite Christmas movie is Christmas Vacation, by the way.)

For those of you who aren’t fans of winter, here are some lovely ways to stay happy during this dark and cold season.

Speaking of happy things, I’m completely feeling this post by Taylor at In the Buff. Girl, I’m totally with you. I needed this, thank you.

I think we all need a girl gang. I love this piece about all-female gatherings and the importance of female friendship.

And for an extra treat, keep an eye out right here for a holiday giveaway next week! You won’t want to miss out on this one.

Have a fun and festive weekend, everybody!

Run The World: Amy, the Philanthropist

Amy, the Philanthropist

Gilda’s Club Rochester

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections over the years, but when you volunteer, you vote everyday about the kind of community you want to live in.”   –Unknown

While important throughout the year, giving back to the community is especially pertinent each holiday season. To help propel us all into the giving spirit, this next installment of my series Run the World, featuring women in business, highlights Rochester, New York-based philanthropist, Amy Button.

Amy spends much of her free time bettering her community. After several years serving as a volunteer for various organizations, she co-founded Flower City Philanthropy to help others identify philanthropic opportunities and educate them about volunteering.

Even as I sat with Amy to conduct this interview, she set out on a new mission. Amy and I were connected by our mutual friend, Bethany. She had just come from an MRI appointment, and told Amy that, following the test, they throw away the socks that they give you to wear during the scan. I honestly didn’t think too much about this, but Amy was horrified. She asked Bethany for the office’s contact information, planning to call them the next day. She listed several organizations who would be able to use the otherwise-wasted socks. That constant awareness and sense of compassion embodies Amy’s philanthropic spirit.

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A Christmas Playlist

Christmas at Grandma's

One of my favorite Christmas scenes, Grandma and Grandpa’s house

I looked at the calendar this weekend in complete disbelief that Christmas is only THREE WEEKS AWAY. What?! What happened to 2016?!

Speaking of “what happened,” I’m sorry to have been absent this past week. I’ve been feeling under the weather since Thanksgiving, but I’m slowly seeing my normal self emerge. While I’ve been down for the count, my Christmas decorating and celebrating has gotten away from me. But! This weekend, we cut down the most perfect Christmas tree—a festive step in the right direction. Once we got it home, I was afraid we got a little overzealous; it’s really tall, guys. Now that I think about it, I’m not too sure how we’ll get it out of the house when the time comes, but meh, details…

I threw together this Christmas playlist for all the decorating, gift exchanging, and hot chocolate (wine) drinking of the season. It’s something a little different, but a mix of both classic and nontraditional Christmas tunes. Enjoy!

P.S. Another good Christmas playlist option is the Home Alone soundtrack, just sayin’. Happy December, my friends!