A few weeks ago, I visited the Robie House in Chicago, Illinois for the first time ever. It has been called one of the most important works of American residential architecture and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is technically on the campus of the University of Chicago in the South Side of Chicago Hyde Park neighborhood.
Everything was designed by Wright, from the actual home to the carpets and furniture. The overhanging eaves, horizontal bands and sturdy structure are all what make this one of the best examples of Prairie style architecture. While much of this property is original, there are some replicas in place when the original gates and furniture had been destroyed.
Just like with the Darwin Martin House, the entryway to the house interior is purposefully unclear. The cement pots and much of the design for this property are repeated here just three years after Wright completed the Martin estate.
I've been on a few tours of Frank Lloyd Wright estates, including Graycliff, Falling Waters, and the Darwin Martin House, but this one had the most laid back mid-western Chicago Bears loving guide. Sometimes guides can be a bit prim and proper, so it was nice having this guy show us around, although he did confuse my brother for my husband.
One of my favorite parts of Wright's designs are his window panes. These were absolutely beautiful. The color only shows on the inside so that it would be more cost effective for the Robie's. The guide told us this was the only house that Wright completed under-budget.
Another reason why I love FLW is is incorporation of the outside, inside. Large windows are a faucet of every home with special attention taken to the way the sunlight coming in would affect those in the house during different times of day. It's a shame that the Robie family only lived here for a year.
The horizontal lines of the exterior were achieved by using these long bricks with gray cement under and on top of them. Brown cement was used between the bricks horizontally so that the horizontal look would be more dramatic. Again, more geometry is see in the gate. Unfortunately this is not an original, but I believe it is pretty exact to the original.
The more Frank Lloyd Wright estates I visit, the more I enjoy his work and the more difficult it is for me to articulate why. I love bringing the outside in, geometric shapes, and so much thought put into everything. Gold and brass accents also do not hurt. I like thinking about the time that these were constructed and the feeling of promise that these owners had. It was a time when so much as new and being done. This house had a three car garage when most people didn't own a car. It was 1900's version of opulent. And opulence at that time included a great deal of thought.
On our way walking back to the bus, we passed by this gem. It's the Isidore Heller House, for sale, a national historic landmark. The sign outside read:
Designed in 1896 by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Heller House is one of the most important surviving examples of his emerging Prairie Style. In a significant departure from the conventional fashion of the day, Wright fused his own geometric style with the rich decorative detail characteristic of his mentor, Louis Sullivan. A Beaux Arts Prieze on the third floor was executed by sculptor Richard Bock. The house possesses national significance in commemorating the architectural history of the United States of America. The master bathroom featured a separate shower stall and bathtub.
I love vintage items for so many reasons. Not only is it environmentally-friendly to keep using older items that work perfectly well instead of filling up landfills and generating demand for wasteful products, I also just think they look cool. Mid-century modern aesthetic is just really pretty to me, so when I was thifting at a new shop called Savers during #buffalostaycation2014, I couldn't pass up this beauty.
Disclaimer: I'm not claiming this is as energy efficient as modern fans. I really don't know much about the subject. I was moreso referring to clothes and homegoods being good environmental decisions.
It was very dirty, but I knew it had potential. After some research online, I found that this fan is a Windsor P-23 from the manufacturer, Lakewood, and it was produced i the late 60's to early 70's.
Here's a close up of the inside. It is clearly quite gross. There's a lot of build up around the actual fan, so much so that the blades were not running as fast as they should be able to.
My supplies for this adventure included a washcloth, microfiber cloth, screwdriver, and Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds that I diluted and put in a spray bottle. I also used a glass cleaner from Method for the fans and soaked the screws in a little bowl of Sal Suds with water.
I unscrewed the front side of the fan and worked on the blades. Luckily, the build up came off fairly easily. In this picture you can see just how much were on the fan blades. Gross!
I took off the other side of the fan cover using my screwdriver, and cleaned that side in the same way. Honestly, soaking the screws in soapy water did not do much. I will probably replace these screws with new, shiny ones because the rust and dirt is too built up.
It look about an hour, but I was able to clean the inside and outside so that the blue looked much more vibrant. I also had to give the covers a bath to loosen up the dirt. Once that was all clean, the white looked so much brighter.
I am very happy with how this turned out, with just a little bit of elbow grease and household cleaning supplies. I probably wouldn't have been able to find a fan that I like as much aesthetically, and as good quality (it's been running for about 45 years old already!) for only $5.
City Hall has always been one of my favorite buildings. Art Deco completed in 1931, it's just a beauty. It is one of the few places I have ever envisioned myself getting married, if that day ever comes. City Hall so grand and the detail that architect John Wade put throughout the interior and exterior is just not seen in present-day architecture. It would simply be too expensive today. I have been on two tours of City Hall with out-of-town friends and family, so I really just wanted to view the building, the lobby murals, and the observation deck.
The building itself is 32 stories, and the observation deck is on the 27th floor. Before the HSBC tower was built, City Hall was the tallest building in Buffalo. I do not deny my fear of heights, but with the large Plexiglas enclosure, I had a bit more confidence than I would otherwise. Mid-day is the best time to go on the observation deck, to see the bustling people below. It's also closed after business hours, but it is open on the weekends.
On our way to Goat Island, a little island in the Niagara River connected by bridge to the Niagara Falls State Park (US), my friend Nicholas told me that he had a special secret place to take me. At his insistence, I will not disclose the actual location of this spot. However, somewhere on Goat Island we were able to make our way to the Niagara River, just FEET away from the drop of the falls where it is eerily calm. I sat on a large rock, just off the shore and was able to dip my feet in to the water that would soon fall 165 feet! I searched for pretty shells and had a nice, relaxing chat with Nicholas.
We continued on to Luna Island, connected to Goat Island by bridge and the views were fantastic. Luna Island separates Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls, so you have water falls on either side of you. I believe Bridal Veil Falls is where the Cave of the Winds tour takes place. For that, people travel behind the falls and can see the marvelous curtain of water rushing in front of them!
Nicholas and I had such a great time, and it was lovely to see a different view of the falls, since I've been there so many times. A lot of people bash the view that the American side has, preferring the Canadian side, but I rather enjoyed the view from Luna Island. It was such an awesome vantage point.
Movieland 8 hosts $2 movies on Wednesday and Friday, and discounted movies on the regular. It's a second-run theater and I love it. I don't often see movies right as they come out, and honestly, they are just so damn expensive! There were a few movies I wanted to see, but Nicholas and I decided on Malificent.
Malifcient is the un-told story of Sleeping Beauty, and without spoiling anything, I really like how recent Disney movies have focused less on happy endings involving finding true heterosexual love, and more on relationships with family and friends, and making the right decisions. All in all, it was well-made and held my attention. Would I pay $10 to see it? No.
One of my absolute favorite hobbies is thrift store shopping. I don't have a lot of expendable cash, and I feel like consumerism is a bit out of hand. I don't see why people wouldn't buy a complete set of dishes at a thrift store that are a fraction of the cost of those at Target or Walmart, or even more expensive places like Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond.
There are certain aesthetics that I just adore, like mid-century modern, and art deco. Whenever possible, I buy vintage. I love the craftsmanship, the details, and hunting for great pieces is a wonderful game. Now that I have a record player, I'm hoping to find some good music.
I ended up with a small mid-century alarm clock for my bedroom and a pair of open-toe sandals that have a slight grandma vibe. Unfortunately, on the first wear the shoes lost their soles on the heel, so I have to take them to a repair shop. I know a good one on Hertel Avenue.
We went to a more high-end vintage shop with a lot of special pieces in Kenmore, called Josie's Antiques, and a new discount thrift store called Savers on Sheridan Drive. We had loads of fun at each of them, though since Nicholas, Sophia, and I are all on budgets, we only purchased from Savers. I don't always buy when I go thrifting; somethings I just like to look and gain inspiration. I was surprised with how organized and clean Savers was.
I also stopped at a friend of a friend's lawn sale and picked up a collection of books with short stories by different authors, divided by country. I finally found a pair of vintage salt and pepper shakers that I adored: small metal apple and pear replicas. And, I brought yet another typewriter home. This is a white one from Sears. I couldn't resist.
I think it's safe to stay that I love going on tours. I love learning about the history of objects and places, the story that made today what it is. So, Nicholas and I went a tour of Larkinville, the Hydraulics and the Valley put on by Open Air Auto-bus. The tour guide is an urban planner for the City of Buffalo and it was clear that he is really into restoration and preservation. It was so cool to learn about the major industries in Buffalo and how drastically it has changed. The steel, grain, and airplane industry were such a large part of Buffalo in the early twentieth century. I plan on going on more tours in the future. The Whirlwind Tour focuses more on architecture and is a little longer, so I think that will be my next one.
Burchfield Penny Art Gallery opened its Elmwood Avenue incarnation in 2008 and I have been meaning to visit ever since it opened. Located on Buffalo State College's campus, it hosts a large collection of works by Charles E. Burchfield, as well as many western New York artists. It is really great to see local artists being appreciated for their innovations. I know so many talented artists who live or have lived in Buffalo, and I feel very fortunate to be inspired by them.
Bike enthusiasts in Buffalo ride the Erie Canalway Trail from Tonawanda to downtown Buffalo and Canalside. Riders can take a detour over the Peace Bridge to Canada's Niagara River Trail. My friend, Derek and I began in the West Side and made our way to Niagara Street, passing through LaSalle Park, Riverside Park, and ending at Canalside. The trail is along the river, and is just beautiful. There is a pedestrian bridge that extends above the highway 190 and offers great views of the river and the Peace Bridge. We did a late day ride, so it was not too hot and we could really appreciate the setting sun.
On the way back, we took a detour to view the Fontana Boathouse. Designed in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright, it was not actually built until 2007. It was the only boathouse that Wright ever designed, and it is completely functional, housing row boats. There was an event taking place, so we were not able to tour the facilities, but the exterior is beautiful and clearly a FLW design, bringing the outside in, roof extending horizontally, prairie style at its finest.
I worried about "wasting" my vacation on Buffalo. I worked so hard, so many hours, to accrue time off. It was hard to not be stingy with it. But I reminded myself that it is important to not be so precious with what you have, and to appreciate what you have in your backyard. I am lucky to be where I am, and to have the resources I have at hand. I ended this vacation feeling so inspired by all of the beauty around me, like Lester Burnham says in his final scene in American Beauty,
"But, it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life."
This past winter was harsh. When I say harsh, I mean golfball-sized hail in April. It was long and psychologically damaging. The summer is wonderful in Buffalo; locals would say it's the best time of year. But it's too short. In early August, I celebrated my three year anniversary with my company, and was gifted more vacation days. I decided to take five of them right away so I could enjoy Buffalo at its finest. I titled it my #buffalostaycation2014. Let's go!
The Hotel Lafayette is one of my absolute favorite buildings in Buffalo. Designed in the French renaissance style, the seven story building was designed by the first professional American female architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune. It has great terra cotta detail, beautiful woodwork, and murals. The hotel underwent $35 million renovation, completed in 2012, and the result is just spectacular. It's a lovely boutique hotel and to top it off, they have several restaurants and bars. I stopped at Butterwood Sweet & Savory with my friend Meghan to enjoy happy hour cocktails and wine. The bar is a former speakeasy, located in the basement of the hotel and I enjoyed soaking up the vibes of prohibition.
I was fortunate to be able to attend Sugar City's grand re-opening at their new location on Niagara Street. They are an art and venue space curated by fantastic local artists. Not only that, but Cages were playing and I have always wanted to see them. They're an experimental two-some. Incredibly haunting and beautiful. Much of their music is improvised and you can feel the unfiltered emotion from this pair. It's almost part band and part art installation.
I have wanted to visit Letchworth State Park for years. It's about an hour from Buffalo, so my friend Derek and I drove down on my first full day off. There are three large waterfalls, a massive gorge, and countless other small falls. We hiked a few of the trails that offered unique perspectives and even ran into a fox. Anyone who knows me can contest that I feel a deep affinity for animals and spotting a fox so close to us was an absolute joy. I almost cried after he escaped the trail, to be so close to a wild animal! It was a magical and beautiful day.
Boyhood was playing at the Dipson Amhert Theater, and it was so cool to see a movie that was filmed over the course of eleven years, as the main character grew from a child into a young adult. Directed by Richard Linklater, the bonds between the characters seemed almost more authentic considering these characters had been in each others' lives for a real period of time, an actual decade. The performances were fantastic and I liked the loose narrative and the seamless way that the characters aged. There was no "age 10" "age 11" et cetera. It focused on defining moments that families experience, and was convincing and real.
The North Park Theatre on Buffalo's Hertel Avenue had been closed for restoration for eight months, starting in 2013 and recently opened back up to the public. I had seen other films there. They generally play more independent or cult films. The single screen film house was opened in 1920 and I was so happy to see attention taken to the Art Nouveau ceiling mural dome. The theatre boasts a Flexflume marquis and neoclassical foyer and auditorium. It's simply stunning.
North Park was playing my favorite Miyazaki film, My Neighbor Totoro. It was so lovely to see both old and young people all together in this packed playhouse to view such a whimsical film. I do wish that they had played the subtitled version, and not the dubbed one, but I can understand how they would want to for the children in attendance. For those who do not know, Totoro is a Japanese animation film starring two young girls whose mother is ill, in the hospital. They move into a new house with their father and discover magical creatures that reside in the countryside.
Bennett Beach is one of my favorite beaches in the Buffalo area. About thirty minutes from downtown Buffalo, the drive to Bennett Beach is great because you pass by these beautiful mansions and estates along the way. Frank Lloyd Wright designed Graycliff, owned by Darwin Martin, is along the way, in fact. Bennett Beach has tall sand dunes and perfect light grained sand. The water is warm in the August sun and the rounded pebbles soon give way to a sandy soil sculpted to the rhythm of the waves.
Both days I went to Bennett beach were decidedly during the week. I wanted a quiet and peaceful environment that weekends do not always afford, with families, children, and large groups of beach-goers. Both trips were really successful and very meditative. I practiced being in the moment and really enjoying the sun, the waves, and the fortune I have had in my life to be able to have this time to relax.
Recently, I switched over purses. I had been using a brown leather vintage purse from the 70's or (more likely) 80's with frayed stitching and gold accents my mother gifted me. I had found it in pile of clothes and accessories she was planning on selling or giving away at a yard sale. There was nothing particularly special about it. It was simple and a good shape. A few days ago, my friend Sheena sent me a vintage purse. She has a great online shop called Ruby Threads Vintage and I had complimented her on the purse. It has a horse's head and horse shoe with the brand (Mesace) stamped into the leather and lots of great compartments. Since I've always found it facinating what other people choose to carry around with them, I decided I would do a "What's in His/Her Purse" blog. Normally I have more random slips of paper in my purse, but since I just changed it out, this one was relatively clean of debris. The largest item in my purse is my Kindle Fire in my DODO Case. The wallpaper in the case reminds me of a really cool book edition, which is why I chose it off of some discount site like Gilt or Groupon. Right now I'm reading the Divergent series, which is somewhat embarrassing, but I like a beach read every now and then. By the end of this, I'm sure I will be in the mood for something serious and possibly depressing. I need a purse that can fit a book because I always have to have a book or an e-reader with me. I suffer from a surge of anxiety when I realize that I don't have one. That's the reason I started carrying a purse in middle school. Right below the e-reader from left to right are a hotel-sized body lotion, a Walgreens Photo order, Harvy Milk stamps, a Rhodia notepad and Uni-ball Vision ink pen. The lotion is from El Conquistador in Puerto Rico and it's a fancy Salvatore Ferragamo body cream named Tuscan Soul. But, it's really not that great. It's just a good size for a purse. The Walgreens order is a photo that's part of a gift for a friend. I bought the Milk stamps from the USPS website because I hate going to the post office. It only seems to be open while I'm at work, and I was down to my last two vintage seed packets stamps. I use the Rhodia notepad to jot down ideas and "To Do" lists. Right now, I'm mapping out my vacation/staycation for next week. The pen is black, gel ink. It's pretty smooth. To the right of the e-reader is a shiny package that houses a pair of DaySoft daily desposable contact lenses, just in case. Four, yes four, lipsticks/lipglosses/lipstains in reds/oranges because I'm always wearing lipstick, and a Lush solid perfume in Lust. Below that is the Milani Grandissimo Lashes mascara, which is a great drugstore mascara. Next to the makeup are my work ID badge, because I'm on my lunch break, and my keys. I hate the picture on my ID, but I suppose everyone hates the picture on their identification. The keys I carry are my apartment key, car key, bike lock key, and desk keys. The Strand is a huge bookstore in NYC, and I've had that keychain for about four years now, aquired at the Strand along with a Philip Roth book. I purchased my black Mat & Nat wallet off eBay five or six years ago. It's pretty classic, with gold accents, and it has a woven pattern that reminds me of those light jackets old ladies wear. It gives me a good feeling. The coin pocket is, unfortuantely, torn so all of my change ends up in the inner lining of the wallet, which has happened to me with other wallets and makes me wonder if that flaw is as widespread as I imagine it to be. Since I work at a desk in front of a computer all day, bracelets and watches bother me after a few hours and I end up taking them off. Such is the case with this vintage Timex watch. I took this off my mother's hands after my older brother failed to, and I like the black analog face. Last item is my cell phone case which houses in my HTC One Max that I used to take this picture. I bought the boring case from Amazon and painted it gold, but it needs another coat or two of paint.
Peter and Carly got married on May 17, 2014 in Gilbertsville, NY on a beautiful estate. It was one of the most beautiful and by far the most unique wedding I have ever been to. Yesterday, I was editing some photos I took of the event for a project for the bride and groom. I decided I would share them on my blog; the wedding was too handsome to keep to myself. Carly and Peter, if you are reading this, you will be getting a little something in the mail in the next week or two.
Putting aside the awful gifts from boyfriends, socks and undeniably revealing clothing, there are those few unintentional gifts from boyfriends and ex’s that seem to be most significant. This is not to say that I am not grateful for presents painstakingly chosen by men who hate shopping (not all men hate shopping, by the way, just the ones I date), but it seems that often these gifts have a motive involved. For example, he would like to see my breasts in normal daily route, while I prefer keeping those babies covered up. The gifts I most treasure are those shared passions and interests. For example, one ex-boyfriend loved cycling. I hadn’t gotten a new bike since middle school, a silver GT Bullet mountain bike, and I never particularly liked riding. I grew up in a rural area, so if I wanted to go to the park, it meant a ten mile bike ride, and if I wanted to get to my closest friends house, I would bike five miles. Cycling was a means of transportation when I had no other options.
Road bikes, however, were different. They were slim, sleek, and fast. They coexisted with busy city traffic. Compared to a car, they were freeing. I enjoyed learning about them, about how to fix up the used ones I bought—the only ones I could afford. I oiled the chains, wrapped new bar tape, and basically felt like a badass. The exhilaration of wind pummeling my face, the burn of pedaling, and the fury of speed were nuances that eluded me years ago on my mountain bike. He and I went on midnight rides and I learned from him about bikes. That relationship didn’t last, but my fascination with bikes did. It’s now warm enough in Buffalo to go for rides, which just brightens my day.
Another significant gift was mid-century modern design. This ex had gorgeous mid-century pieces in his home, a Seth Thomas starburst clock in perfect condition, credenzas, display cases, and figurines. I had been drawn to this style before we met, but seeing his home outfitted in this era made me swoon. Whenever I think about incorporating a new piece of furniture, I search eBay, Craig’s List, thrift stores, and vintage shops. I hunt for tapered legs and beautiful finished wood. I have swan figurines swimming on my record player credenza, gold starburst encrusted plates, and a peg-legged desk with curved wood drawers. My friend, Megan, gifted me a Charlie Harper coffee table book.
When I think about my boyfriend now, and what he has unconsciously gifted me, I think about food. He is a very practical man, and seems to have endless information regarding uncommon vegetables and their nutritional benefits. He loves organic, locally-sourced food, and he’s a great cook. I’ve taken on a recipe or two, and I am very much hoping that this will be a gift that folds itself into my routine. For my birthday, he made me a raw vegan cheesecake with chocolate ganache and my favorite vegan mac and cheese casserole. He’s making me dinner tonight and I can’t wait to see what we are having.
This past weekend, I made a trip to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. It was my second time being there, but my first time in the light of day, where the plants could show their true color. The older I get, the more completely enamored I am with the beauty of nature, delicate petals and leaves, tough exteriors with gorgeous blooms.
We have all made New Year's resolutions. Some have stuck, while others were destined to fail the moment they were born. Sometimes they're trite. One year I resolved to have painted nails, and succeeded, though they were chipped most of the time. Other times they're well meaning. Be good to others, is one I had. Oftentimes they disappear, simply forgotten, or fail because they are too great or too rigid.
Taking into account so much of what has happened in my life the past few years, I wanted a good one. I wanted to solve my feelings of disappointment in myself, and stress. It's essential for me to always be striving and see no end in sight, just a better life. I've always had trouble juggling work, friends, relationships, artistic ambitions, taking time out for myself, and basic responsibilities like housework. I go in phases. Sometimes I only do things that I love and make me happy, ignoring responsiblities. Other times I work, work, work, ignoring friends and family.
So this year, I've resolved to improve balance. I want a day filled with work, chores, fun activities, friends, family, and writing. I want to be able to do everything and not too much of just one in a day. I waited to share this resolution as I have put it to practice for the majority of January. It seems to be working. I feel so much less stress and greater happiness. What can I say? I'm on the path to a better me.
Scones were something I could never find in vegan version. I would see vegan cupcakes, vegan cookies, vegan cakes, but never vegan scones. They weren't something that I ever made when I was vegetarian, and since I never saw them in vegan baked goods shops, I assumed executing them in a vegan way was impossible, or simply too difficult for a novice.
I don't remember how I came across this recipe, but what attracted me most is that it was easy. I'm still a fledgling baker. Sometimes I use baking soda when I should be using baking powder, or confuse teaspoons for tablespoons, and it looks fine until I bite into it and immediately am overwhelmed with that chalky, foul taste. I was worried that I would mess it up terribly, but since there are so few instructions, it soon became one of my favorite things to make (not to mention the fact that they are delicious!).
What you'll need:
3 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1/3 cup of sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups of soy milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Begin by setting your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Take all of the dry ingredients and add them together in a medium to large sized mixing bowl. Mix them well, then add all of the liquid ingredients. Mix until completely combined then take a medium to large sized baking sheet out and apply vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop out the dough to put on the baking sheet. Before putting it in the oven, sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar. This recipe should yield about eight medium sized scones.
After about 12-15 minutes, the bottoms of the scones should be lightly browned and they can be taken out of the oven at that point. Remember, that the tops will not change color significantly, so the bottom is the best way to tell if it is done. Each oven is different, so the scones may bake faster or slower. Just keep an eye on them.
The original recipe had a tiny bit less sugar and did not call for vanilla. I like eating my scones plain, so adding just a bit more flavor was perfect. This recipe is so versitle because people can add fruit, berries, jam, or chocolate chips to get something a bit more decadent. They could even top them off with a vegan frosting.
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