Bubbles & Berries Boudoir

What’s the first thing you think about when I say boudoir photography? Scary? That’s what I used to think…until now. Like a lot of women, I used to be intimidated by boudoir photography.  Generally speaking, stripping down to your underwear in front of a stranger sounds crazy, but then the stranger starts taking photos of you? Yikes.

Boudoir photography has come a LONG way, and believe me, there is nothing to be terrified of.  Recently I met with Robyn of Bubbles & Berries Boudoir to do a little session of my own and it was an amazing experience!  We met at her photography studio and from the moment I met her, she made me feel so relaxed and excited to start our session.  Robyn likes to do things a little different with her clients in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible with the process, as well as really get a feel for their personalities so that she can make the most of their photo session.  She asks her clients a number of questions ranging from what music they listen to, to what they like the most about their bodies.  This way, Robyn creates a super personal connection with her clients and can make sure that they have the best experience possible.  Also, one of the things that I loved most is that she has multiple sets in her studio, so you can switch up the vibes for all of your different sides!

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I sat down with Robyn and her new photographer addition Tessa before my session to ask them a few questions about Bubbles & Berries and about boudoir photography in general and here’s what they had to say!

How long have you been shooting boudoir professionally?

I started in 2010, so this is my seventh year doing it! I started because I read an article about it and I had no idea what it was, I read it in a professional photography magazine. I was working weddings with my husband already so I was already shooting professionally for a while.  So as soon as I read the article I was like, oh my gosh, I need to do this! Like, I didn’t even know it was a thing! So I just started to do my research and see what was out there, and there was nothing around here yet.  It was all pretty much on the West Coast or New York City.

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What drew you to boudoir? 

What it was mostly, at least from the article that I had read, was the takeaway that the women get from the experience.  So I knew right off the bat that it wasn’t so much about taking pretty pictures for people, it’s what they take away after their shoot for themselves.  That’s what made me want to try it and do it and really find a way for women to embody their inner sexy.  I feel like so many people shy away from that and they feel like they could never do that kind of thing and I was like “Yeah you can!”  That’s really what drove me to start this business.

Do you find that you get mostly brides as clients?

I think there’s a shift in the business.  Originally most of my clients were doing it as a groom’s gift or a significant other gift, but then I don’t know if it had to do something with my style, but there was a shift.  The clientele base started to become either new moms or people who just wanted to rekindle things in their relationship or just try something new.  Or people became more body aware and more comfortable with themselves to embrace that.  But now, with bringing Tessa on board, I want to shift it back into doing more brides as well, because I feel like I kind of got away from that.  I feel like it’s an ever-growing thing.

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What do you love most about what you do?

I love getting to meet the client for the first time, seeing how nervous they are, and just knowing that it’s gonna all be okay!  On top of that, when they leave here, seeing the excitement on their face and knowing that they had a really great time.  Obviously I love the positive feedback, but I just love to see how it makes them feel.  They are really doing it for themselves, and I don’t think people really get that until they do it and have that experience. Once the first few clicks of the camera are off, maybe five minutes in, they completely forget where they are and they are just enjoying themselves.  I love the transformation.

What is one of your most memorable experiences as a photographer?

The first one that comes to mind is that two years ago I did a Mother’s Day giveaway. The woman who won it, her baby was 9 months old when she came in, and all of our email conversations were pretty much her telling me that I had my work cut out for me and all that stuff. She came in and she was very nervous and felt very uncomfortable at first, but then she got her hair and makeup done and started getting into the session and after I had emailed her to tell her what I great time I had with her, and her response was basically that she got home and she cried because she didn’t feel like a frumpy new mom.  She couldn’t believe the amazing time she just had, and she hadn’t even seen her pictures yet! That was probably one of the most memorable experience that I’ve ever had.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

There’s a lot of photographers that I follow.  I like the Boudoir Divas, and it’s funny, I feel like my life path is sort of going in the direction that they went in. They are kind of branching off and doing something different and changing, so I find it interesting that I’m also in the changing process. I admire their business ethics and they model themselves and business women first and photographers second, which is extremely important to run a successful business. Also, my husband, honestly, and I know that sounds cheesy! He taught me everything I know from the beginning, I was not a photographer, I was a graphic designer. As Onion Studio was its own business and I was a graphic designer, I was looking for new jobs and I was like “Can I just work for us and make that happen?” So we both went full on board working for ourselves and he really inspired me to get educated and push myself and keep my eyes open.  He’s my biggest photography inspiration, and he’s a really hard worker!

Tessa:  One of the things also, as your inspiration, are your clients themselves. I think that’s an important part about what differentiates her boudoir business from others.  Getting to know the clients. So beforehand there’s a questionnaire, talking about style, music, what are your outfits going to be…kind of a dialogue to understand her client first, and then from there she adjusts the session to fit them.  It’s really unique, and a lot of inspiration comes from that. It’s a teamwork thing!

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What do you love most about living and having your business in Buffalo?

So I grew up in Akron, and my family was kind of timid into venturing out into the city. We really didn’t do much of that, so once I went to college and got a job out this way and started to explore, I was like “Why are they so worried about everything?” Now Buffalo is on the upswing of creativity and art and acceptance, it’s a really accepting place to live. I think that’s a major part of why I love this, especially with a business such as boudoir.  Also, the tight knit creative community that we have here. Even among photographers.

Tessa: Very friendly competition and wanting to bring everyone up instead of trying to stomp on someone or undercut them. Let’s make more business for everyone and help everybody out!

Do you have a favorite local bar or restaurant?

I like small local restaurants.  Mangia in Orchard Park has a good variety and a nice atmosphere and is family friendly.  I like any atmosphere that’s cool and relaxed. We aren’t really up to speed on the bar scene yet.  We are too focused on the business, I think.

What is currently on your playlist?

I like Portishead, also Bishop Briggs.  Beats Antique, one of their creators is a dancer, and she caters the music to dancers.  Since I’m a dancer I really appreciate this.  I’ve taken workshops with her and to see her journey and the process of everything is really cool.

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What are your plans for the future of your business?

A lot of growth! Bringing Tessa on this year has been huge. I’ve always been the one to hold myself accountable, and now I have someone else to help with that and to share and bounce off ideas and just have another person to have vision with. We also want to hit the bride scene hard this year and offer awesome opportunities for brides.  And also we want to launch couples shoots. I always want to learn and grow and offer new things to people. Also, we would like to have some events, possibly an open house or a bridal event.  We are offering hair and makeup as add-ons to photo shoots as well.  Lots of fun things!

What advice would you give to a woman who really wants to do pictures but is nervous about the process?

I would first ask why they want to do the pictures, because having the insight into the thought process of why they want the pictures is important. Are they doing it for someone else or are they doing it also because it’s pushing them out of their comfort zone? I would say that there’s really no reason not to do it! It’s a lot of fun and since we offer the opportunity for people to make it what they want, it’s not scary or intimidating. If they did want to do lingerie but they are nervous about it there are so many options out there for lingerie! We really try to get to know people first to make them comfortable.

Tessa: We always tell people to not underestimate themselves. We remind women of how beautiful they are and tell them that we are going to focus on something that they really like. So maybe they have a new bra that they brought that they really like.  We want them to be excited about the things that they are comfortable with.  We allow them to be themselves but also push them in a creative way, but only to the limit that they would choose.

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Thank you so much Robyn and Tessa for an amazing experience! I’m completely in love with these photos and you are both the sweetest! If you are looking for a local boudoir photographer, make sure to contact Robyn ASAP!

Once And For All Clothing

I started getting really interested in fashion four years ago when I started my blog and I bought into the trend-salad…I wanted EVERYTHING trendy and I wanted to wear all of it at once.  I look back on some of the photos and cringe because it sometimes looked like I was wearing a costume.  Now that I’m a little bit older and my style has evolved, I’m gravitating towards classic and well-made pieces.  Basic pieces that are elevated and expertly crafted.

I’ve been following Molly and her clothing brand Once And For All for a while now.  She’s a local designer who crafts stunning pieces that aren’t trendy, but completely classic and will last a lifetime.  Molly recently sent me the Nya II blouse and oh my god, can I just tell you how beautiful this top is!  I had to do this beautiful piece justice, and something about it totally inspired me to do an artistic photo shoot.  I collaborated with two of my best friends- Ryan Kell with his photography and Chuck Tingley with his artwork as the backdrop, and I think this turned out to be one of my favorite shoots to date!

I asked Molly a few questions about her business and her inspiration, and here’s what she had to say!

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When did you start your business?

I started by hand making and re-purposing vintage garments in 2011 under the name Once Vintage. I sold on consignment at local boutiques, at local markets and on Etsy. I switched gears and launched into manufactured wholesale product under the name Once And For All in 2014.

Have you always known that fashion design was something that you wanted to pursue?

I had always loved fashion since I was a kid but I did not think that it would not be the right fit for me as a person. I was more interested in art and business. My degrees are in Marketing and Graphic Design and I am an oil painter. I fully switched gears into fashion while I was working in the advertising field in New York where I fell in love with the fashion scene. In retrospect I had always had a preconceived notion that fashion was just fluff, but I came to realize that it really was art. I think that was the reason I opened up to the industry.

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How did you come up with the name Once And For All for your brand?

I was just looking for a segway name from Once Vintage, my previous business, that felt somehow related. I wasn’t sure where the businesses were going to go, or if I was going to keep doing both, so I wanted something to keep them together. I thought about using Once since it was the only word usable for the new concept and I thought about the phrase “Once And For All”. The name easily lent itself to a lifestyle brand, it sounded sure of itself, and it felt inclusive all of which fit my requirements. I then thought further about the connotations of the term “Once And For All” such as; an ending, a definitive decision, completion or something of conclusive in nature. This led me to think of the philosopher Seneca’s quote: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. I am a Christian and my faith is very important to me, so it felt like there was an expression of my faith in that concept.

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What do you love about owning your own business?

I love the involvement in so many different areas. I am of a decidedly dual nature mixing the creative and business, so its vey fulfilling to utilize both sides. My day-to-day activities are varied and include: research and development, design, technical design, sourcing, fabric testing, pattern making, manufacturing, quality control, photo direction, creative direction, sales, graphic design, web design, e-commerce, marketing, social media, PR, accounting, customer service, and all of the organizational and administrative stuff I have to do daily. The design aspect is my favorite, but I often think that if I was only a designer I couldn’t do all these things I love to do and I would miss them.

What are the challenges that come with owning your own business?

Well, its really hard sometimes. It can be isolating, you can get down on yourself, and you can get in your own head a lot. Plus the self discipline of time management, creating and maintaining your timelines, and pushing yourself to grow can be really hard. I have to work really hard at staying balanced through self care and a positive mental attitude.

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I concept in depth each season like a sociologist on my subject matter. The inspiration is different each time and comes about organically through my current exposure to art, history, music, geography, current events. Wherever I am feeling inspired or compelled, I follow. I exhaustively research, write and pull photo references as I sketch my ideas. After I let myself be immersed in my concept, I source my fabrics and do my tech drawings and this is when start to edit down the big ideas to whats manufacturable and sellable.

What do you love most about Buffalo?

Truly, my family. Also the ability to go into the country or be on the water in various directions in 20 minutes.

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What’s currently on your playlist?

I am listening to my vinyl collection a lot at the moment, my next collection is very 70’s inspired so my listening habits are heavy on the singer songwriter babes of the 70’s.
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Carol King – Tapestry
Bonnie Raitt – Bonnie Raitt

What are your plans for the future of your business?

Currently I’m working on expanding my wholesale sales and e-commerce. I would like to make larger collections on a larger scale of production. Future expansions could possibly include a manufacturing facility or a retail location.

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Thank you so much, Molly, for answering my questions and this beautiful top! Make sure to check out her website Once And For All for more incredible designs!

The Victory Gardens by Oxford Pennant

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I have noticed that recently, especially with the Holiday season, pop-up shops are becoming increasingly more popular.  Most pop-ups last a weekend or two, but the ever-wonderful Oxford Pennant has blessed us with a month-long pop-up called The Victory Gardens.

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The Victory Gardens is located at Oxford Pennant’s shop on West Tupper in the city and runs through January 1st.  I had the chance to finally stop in a check out the shop this past weekend, and it’s EVERYTHING.

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Not only do they have some of their amazing pennants for sale, they carry some unique items from brands such as Pendleton, Juniper Ridge, Mollyjogger and even custom Hudson Hockey sticks.

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You can find The Victory Gardens at 43 West Tupper in Buffalo.  They are open all week from 12-8 through January 1st.

Make sure to check out their website for a full list of their hand-made pennants available for purchase.  I might have bought about 4 or 5 to give as gifts this year!

Want to learn more about Oxford Pennant? Check out their recent interview on Yeah! Buffalo’s blog!

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Time to fall in LOVE with JORD

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This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches

In the past few years, I’ve grown to really love watches.  They’ve come a long way from just being a boring piece that you wear on your wrist just to tell time.  Watches are a huge fashion statement, and now they are being made out of materials other than your standard leather bands.

I was recently contacted by JORD Wood Watches…yes, you read that correctly!  JORD carries watches in 13 different types of wood, including Bamboo, Zebrawood, Maple, Koa, and Rosewood.  The watch that I fell in love with is the Frankie, which is made out of Koa & Ash.  My wardrobe consists of mostly black, white and grey, so I immediately knew that this watch would be the perfect compliment to any outfit that I wear.

Here’s the link to my watch…I’m completely obsessed with it!

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Initially, I thought that this watch was going to be on the heavier side, seeing as it’s made out of wood.  But honestly, it’s the lightest watch that I own! It’s so comfortable and super stylish…basically everything that I could want in a watch.

There are so many gorgeous and stylish pieces for both men and women.  There’s something for everyone!  For those of you who love a pop of color, make sure to browse all of their watches.  Most styles come in different woods and different face colors.

JORD and I would like you thank you for being my loyal readers and you can enter here for their instant giveaway and receive a $25 gift code towards watch of your choice!!  They are all so beautifully crafted that it’s so hard to pick a favorite, isn’t it?  This giveaway is available for a limited time only, so make sure to enter today!

Make sure to check out their full MEN’S and WOMEN’S lines…so gorgeous!

 


Watch Gift Ideas

iLashNY

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I love wearing false lashes.  Having not been very blessed in the lash department, I feel like lashes give a makeup look the finishing touch that pulls everything together.  However, as much as I love wearing falsies, sometimes they can be a complete pain.  Depending on the day, they might not want to cooperate, they can look uneven, they can take quite a bit of time to put on, and the glue might unstick halfway throughout the day and you could end up looking like a total hot mess.

I’ve been hearing about eyelash extensions for a while now and was very intrigued, but never really knew who to contact, where to go, or really anything about the extensions or the process itself.  Lucky for me, the wonderful Gabe from iLash NY recently reached out to me and asked if I would like to come in to try out a set of lash extensions! Of course, I was so excited and said yes, and I am soooo happy that I did.

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iLash NY recently moved into a brand new location and I love how light and bright and open it feels inside, yet it’s still super cozy.  iLashNY opened its doors in 2007, however, Gabe took ownership in late 2012 when she decided to purchase the business and grow the brand. She was trained in lash extensions by the previous owner of the business and after becoming a client of hers, she approached her with the idea of taking over ownership. The idea of being able to have a positive impact on the beauty industry and create an environment that supported women, while building a legacy for her family really excited Gabe, and the rest is history!

Gabe loves that she is able to have an impact on the lives of so many women; not only all the beautiful clients who come in, but also her team. Their mission statement is, “iLashNY is a premier eyelash extension studio dedicated to quality artistry with a distinct passion to allow natural beauty to radiate from the inside, out”.  She has the ability to come alongside so many people to encourage and support them in so many different ways.  Not just by applying lash extensions, but also by providing meaningful conversation in an uplifting environment.

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To start off our appointment, Gabe did a quick assessment of my eye shape and my lashes, deciding on a lash style that would best compliment my features.  I reclined in that giant chair, and let me tell you, that was probably one of the most comfortable chairs that I have ever sat in.  She told me that some clients actually do fall asleep during their appointments, and I can totally see how that can happen!

She then placed these awesome eye pads under my eyes which contained collagen (so they were great for the under eye area) and were super cooling and refreshing on my skin.  At that point Gabe started to work her magic!

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You can find all of the information that you need about lash extensions and the process on their website, but here are a few of the most important ones:

How do eyelash extensions work?

We adhere semi-permanent eyelash extensions using a very carefully manufactured adhesive that is safe for being placed near the eyes.  Each natural lash is completely isolated from its surrounding lashes before receiving an extension, in order to maintain the health of the individual’s natural lash growth.  Typically, we place somewhere between 75-90 extensions on each eye during a Full Set appointment (depending on the number of natural lashes the individual has).

How long does the process generally take?
A Full Set of Classic Lashes takes up to 2 hours and a Full Set of Volume can take up to 3 hours (sometimes a little bit more) each depending on the condition of the individual’s natural lashes.

Do they hurt?
NO. When properly applied you should not feel them at all. They are lightweight and feel totally natural.

How long do they last?
Lash extensions can last up to 6 weeks when not being maintained with followup appointments.  Each individual’s natural lash cycle is different, however, and therefore we recommend coming in for a touch up appointment within 2-3 weeks.  When your natural lash is ready to cycle out and shed, the extension that is adhered to the natural lash will fall off with it.  Many of us don’t realize that we can shed about 5 natural lashes on a daily basis, so touch up appointments ensure that we are maintaining a full look at all times.

How do I take care of them?
It may seem like a lot to remember, but eyelash extensions are very easy to take care of. The most important thing to be aware of is that “oil is the enemy”. Oil will break down the bond of the adhesive and cause premature loss of the extension. You want to make sure there is no oil in anything you use near your eyes. (foundation, eye creams, makeup, etc.) You do not want to get them wet for 24 hours. Never pull on them. Avoid running water on your lashes. Avoid sauna or hot steam. Use only water based makeup remover. Do not rub your eyes. Do not use a mechanical eyelash curler. Do not sleep on your face. When shampooing or conditioning, do not allow them to run over your eyes. iLash NY sends you home with a home care kit and instructions so you do not have to remember all these “do’s and don’t’s”.

What are the benefits of having eyelash extensions?
No more mascara! I’ve said this so many times that I’ve even had a t-shirt made with the phrase, “I miss wearing mascara … said no one ever!”

There is something to be said for a naturally stunning but super low-maintenance look.  Having lash extensions has cut down on my morning routine (I’ve been able to “86” the lash curler and 3 coats of mascara) as well as my nighttime routine (no more scrubbing to get all of that mascara off from under my eyes).

We’re able to customize the shape of our lash extensions to every individual’s eye shape in order to make the eyes POP.  We’ve even had women scheduled for eye lifts who have postponed the surgery after seeing the benefits of their lash extensions.

Can I swim, shower, exercise or visit a spa while wearing lashes?
Yes, if these activities are not done excessively. Our special adhesive allows you to shower, swim, exercise, sleep and spa while wearing extensions. You can enjoy your lash extensions with little need to adjust your lifestyle. Please do not swim or spa (even steam from your shower) for 48 hours after your lash procedure to allow the bonding agent to fully cure. The main thing to remember with these activities is that you just want to make sure the extensions are not excessively exposed to heat and moisture.

How do I take them off?
You can either let them grow out, or have them professionally removed by a trained professional. Please do not attempt to remove them yourself-we have lash extension remover. It will not harm your natural lashes.

How do I prepare for my appointment?
1.  Be sure to have all makeup removed from the eye area. The more time we spend doing this for you, the less time we have to apply lashes!
2. Do not drink too much caffeine before your appointment. This can make your lashes flutter which makes it difficult to apply lashes.
3. Please put your cell phone on vibrate or silent.
4. If you would like, bring your ipod to listen to.
5. You may want to visit the ladies room beforehand.

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My appointment lasted a little over two hours, but honestly the time just flew by.  It was so relaxing and it was great chatting with Gabe about her business.  It’s so refreshing to talk to someone who is so completely passionate about what she does and is all about growing and always up for learning something new.

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Although they specialize in Lash Extensions, they also offer facial waxing and sugaring, as well as Makeup Application services for special occasion and bridal.  In the past couple of years they’ve had an increasing number of requests for makeup tutorials so they’ve also added Makeup Workshops to their menu.  They hold classes quarterly, during which an instructor (usually Gabe) demonstrates a specific makeup look to a group who will then complete the look on themselves during the demo.  They keep the classes pretty small in order to ensure that each participant can receive hands on, individualized instruction.

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Gabe said that she would love for the iLashNY brand to continue to grow within the Western New York beauty community.  She strives to provide a studio that emphasizes education and artistry and her hope is for consumers to realize that is what sets them apart.  She plans to continue to organize lash training and education to artists in our area while growing her team and further developing their artistry.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…my before and after photos!

Here is my before photo. I never realized how sad my lashes actually were until now  😦

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Annnnnnnnddddd here is the wonderful AFTER!

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Yes, hello gorgeous, beautiful, full lashes. Where have you been all my life?

So having these lashes for two days now, I can say that they’ve completely changed my beauty routine for the better.  I didn’t wear any shadow or liner at all yesterday, but I still felt beautiful and polished.  Today I’m just wearing a little bit of black shadow smudged against my lash line and that’s all I really needed!  I’m absolutely going to be keeping up with these bad boys.

Thank you SO MUCH Gabe for an amazing experience.  I can’t wait to continue my lash journey with you.

iLashNY is located at 4764 N French Rd in East Amherst, NY.  Visit their website for more information.

Breadhive Bakery & Cafe

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I’ve always been really into baking.  Cookies and cakes have been my thing, but what I always wanted to tackle was bread.  I attempted to make a few loaves in the past but they never quite turned out just like I had hoped.

But thanks to Breadhive, I will probably never attempt to make a loaf of bread again. Breadhive is the Ultimate Grand Supreme of the bread world, and I will gladly never go anywhere else for my bread fix.

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Breadhive is a small cafe and wholesale bread bakery based out of Buffalo.  All of their bread, bagles and pretzels are sourdough based, and they are LIFE CHANGING.  Seriously, if you are in the area (and gluten-tolerant) and you’ve never had their bread, you are completely missing out.

Sourdough is one of those things that has always completely terrified me since it is even more so scientific than regular baking.  You need to get the starter just right before you even think about baking a loaf or two.  Breadhive has everything balanced perfectly and accentuate their regular sourdough base with different seasonal flavors, fruits, and grains.

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Breadhive opened up their cafe earlier this year, and last week I finally had the chance to take my mom there on a little lunch date.  I always like to take her to fun and interesting places in the city that she’s never been, and having their bread in the past, we both knew that we were in for a treat.

I loved just how cozy it was on the inside, and one of my favorite things about the place were their little gallery walls.  You can tell that they really took their time to find pieces that worked perfectly with each other.

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All of their breakfast and lunch sandwiches are named after pop music divas:  The Britney, The Shania, The Fiona, The Robyn, etc.  Being a gigantic girl pop nerd, I completely appreciated this tiny, yet huge, detail.

My mom got The Gwen, which was turkey, pepperjack cheese and veggies, and I got The Mariah, which was the most delicious chicken salad that I’ve ever had.  We split both sandwiches and ate every last bite…they were THAT good.

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We also shared this sweet and salty apple galette, which was the perfect end to the perfect lunch.  I would put that caramel sauce on everything.

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Thanks Breadhive for the best mother-daughter lunch date that we’ve had in a long time.  We can’t wait to come back!

Visit their bakery cafe on Connecticut Street for lunch and while you’re there, buy a few loaves to take home and enjoy!

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Two Guys Good Buys

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How would you like to drop everything, hit the road and drive across the country buying up tons of vintage clothing and having the time of your life?

Sounds really enticing, doesn’t it.

Well, two local friends Tyler Annalora & Frank Fina did just that.  They started their Etsy shop Two Guys Good Buys in 2013 and it has grown into the trip of a lifetime.  I had the pleasure of meeting Tyler & Frank at their pop up at Ashker’s on Elmwood at the beginning of the month, and they are two of the nicest guys who really have  a passion for what they do.

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They did the local thing for a while, hitting up flea markets and such, but soon decided that they wanted to do more.  They purchased a van that they converted into a camper, and in 2015 they departed on the ultimate road trip, purchasing vintage clothing and accessories along their travels.

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The items that they purchase all have a purpose and have stood the test of time.  They gravitate towards brands like Patagonia, LL Bean, Ralph Lauren and Woolrich.  Items that have a great reputation and functionality.

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I loved the way that they set up their shop.  Everything was so artfully placed and really spoke to who they are as people and what their business represents.

Luckily, I was able to purchase a few items for my husband who really appreciated the care and quality of these vintage finds.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next Two Guys Good Buys pop up.

Congrats on all of the success, Frank & Tyler, and make sure to check out their shop!

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