The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Summer So Far. August 5, 2015

Filed under: Adventures — Jessica @ 3:51 pm

Since I have been kind of MIA this summer, you guys haven’t heard much about what I have been up to. While there have been no grand vacations or new developments, I have been doing a lot of good old fashioned summer living. I thought I’d share some of my Instagram photos to show you what I have been up to this summer~ in no particular order.

Campfires~

Strawberry Shortcake~ 2 Ways

Farmer’s Market Trips/Volunteering

Good Beer~ (Loving both of these for summer)

Book Club on the boat with friends~

Freckles~

Family~

Lots of Cookouts & Fresh Food~

Reading in the backyard~

Working in the backyard~

Gardening~

Easy Dinners~

Afternoon patio drinks~

The County Fair~

Lakeside hottubbing~

Beach Days~

A concert~

Hammocks~

Outdoor adventures~

Fun adventures~

& Lots of ice cream

 

Living Well On Less- Summer Entertainment. May 22, 2015

Last Friday, I introduced my intention of starting a “Living Well on Less” series to the blog. With the warm weather sticking around these days, I thought covering some free or almost free summer entertainment options would be a good place to start. One important thing to note is that I consider bringing your own food along to an otherwise free event, to be a free activity. You are going to be eating your food from home regardless, so I do not see it as an extra expense.

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Summer is really the best time to try to save some money in the entertainment department. I work much less in the summer and I have to be very careful with our finances. I budget very little for entertainment purposes because it is just not necessary. Doing most anything outside makes it seem like more of an occasion. On top of that, there is just so much going on!

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Most towns host a variety of summer festivals and concerts that are free to the public. Some of my favorite local events are the Yassou festival at the Greek Church. Motor Mayhem/old car show, Fitness in the park, The Chalk Walk and Third Thursday concerts downtown. The Yassou festival costs a couple of dollars to get in and you will definitely want to buy some food but the rest of the events are totally free. Beyond events, there are parks, beaches, backyard cookouts and garage sales to keep you busy. Here is my “summer adventure” list for this year.

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Free Summer Entertainment-

  1. Make Homemade Ice Cream
  2. Go Camping
  3. Go Kayaking
  4. Go out on a Boat (if you have a friend who owns one)
  5. Invite friends over for a fire in the backyard firepit. Have everyone bring a s’mores ingredient
  6. Have a cookout for your family & one for your friends (Keep the menu simple)
  7. Go Hiking
  8. Go to the Beach
  9. Take a book and a blanket and find someplace beautiful to spend the day reading (& napping)
  10. Have a blanket picnic at a local park
  11. Fly Kites (the beach is a great place for this)
  12. Attend local festivals and outdoor concerts
  13. Go for a long bike ride
  14. Have a water balloon fight (be sure to pick up after yourself as balloon pieces can be dangerous to children and animals)
  15. Spend time in my friend’s hot tub on the lake
  16. Go for a country drive and enjoy nature in all its splendor
  17. Take children to the park and actually play with them
  18. Go fishing
  19. Go on a long walk with your family after dinner

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Almost Free-

  1. Start a Garden, even a small herb garden. Seeds are cheap. Dirt is cheap. Growing things is awesome.
  2. Make Boozy Popsicles (alcohol isn’t the cheapest but you don’t need a lot and boozy popsicles are fun)
  3. Go to a Farmer’s Market- go to all of the different ones in your area. It is totally possible and worth it to just go and look at all of the beautiful offerings at your local market but I am personally incapable of leaving the market without some small treasure. I just consider part of the grocery budget if it is food. Supporting local farmers and artisans is important to me.
  4. Berry Picking/Jam making. Berries can be kind of expensive, even when you pick them yourself. If you consider this part of the grocery budget and take care to preserve them, it is definitely worth putting out a little money for. I pick gallons and gallons of blueberries each summer. I will usually spend $30 doing so but I stick them in the freezer and add them to smoothies, oatmeal and desserts for the rest of the year. It is a money saver overall. I also pick strawberries every summer. I love to make Jam. Again, it requires a little investment now but saves money in the long run.
  5. Yard Sales- Give yourself a small budget ($5-$10) and see what treasures you can find. This also works well at thrift stores and rummage sales.
  6. Go to the County Fair. This can be pretty cheap. It is less than $15 to get an all day pass to rides and special events. If you pack your own food and don’t really care about games, that is a great deal for a day of fun!
  7. Host an outdoor potluck dinner party. Keep things simple and have everyone contribute and this is a cheap way to entertain. (more on entertaining on a budget in another post)
  8. Check out the local wine trail. You can sample wines for free at many wineries and it is only a couple of dollars for several tastes at the rest.
  9. Go out for ice cream at your favorite local spot.

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Hope this gave you a few ideas to add to your own summer adventure list! Please share your favorite free or cheap way to enjoy the summer in the comments section.

 

Local Adventures- Reservoir Dogs At Studio Metro. May 8, 2015

If you are a local and have not checked out what is going on at The Spire Theateryou are missing out! The Spire has several different options for performances and events and it is all housed in a beautiful old church. I have seen several plays and musicals there over the last couple of years. Most recently, Tiffany and I went to see Reservoir Dogs in the Studio Metro part of the building. We had seen Twelve Angry Men previously at Studio Metro and we could not wait to see this one. It is one of Tiffany’s favorite movies! Studio Metro’s stage is centered on the floor in the middle of a large room with a variety of seating surrounding 3 sides of it. The stage is at the same level as the chairs and I love being so close to the action.

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IMG_0493The play was very well done. The adaptation was written by one of the actors (who I think is only 16!). The casting was perfect and everyone did a great job. It was as well acted as any play I have seen in larger (more expensive) venues! The only remotely negative thing I have to say about the experience is, know what you are getting into! There was an older couple there and the looks on their faces made me think that they had not seen the movie before. There is a lot of offensive language and a bit of gore. Exactly what you would expect if you had seen the movie already!

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One of the best things about The Spire Theater is that it makes going to see a play or a musical affordable for everyone. Tickets for this show were only $8 for the early bird special but even regular price, tickets were only $12. I don’t think I have every paid more than $15 for a performance here. These are much more reasonable prices than larger venues, not much more than going to see a movie!

There are snacks too! You can get a real glass of local beer for $3, glasses of wine, real bowls of popcorn, cookies, water etc. (This picture also shows how close we were to the “stage”)

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I am just going to leave you with some scenes from the play. If you are bummed you missed it, don’t be! You can still catch it tonight or tomorrow (Friday or Saturday). Seriously, go check it out!!!!

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Movies at the Reg. April 22, 2015

Filed under: Adventures — Jessica @ 7:04 am
Tags: , , ,

Posting more about local events & businesses is a big part of my vision for this blog. I try to participate whenever I am able, I am still just working on being comfortable taking random pictures at events. I plan to start a small business series next month.

Today, I am sharing one of my favorite ongoing “events” in Jamestown- Movies at the Reg. If you live in the area and you have never been to the Reg Lenna, this is a great opportunity to check it out without spending much money. For those of you not familiar, the Reg Lenna is a gorgeous historic theater we are blessed to have right downtown. More info here.

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The Reg shows a variety of movies for the whole family. Many of the movies they show were recently new in theaters but they also show some classics. My sister and I took her children to see Paddington on a Sunday afternoon last month. This past Saturday, my sister and I went to see Wild. I had read the book when it first came out and my book club later selected the book for one of our monthly choices. I loved the book and I thought the movie was a great adaptation. The movie is playing again tonight if you want to see it! I am hoping to see The Breakfast Club next month.

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The best part of seeing movies at the Reg? It only cost $5! You can’t do much with $5 these days so this always feels like such a bargain to me. You can also get snacks to enjoy with your movie. The snack bar offers a variety of candy, popcorn, seltzer water, bottled water and coffee. I believe snacks are $2 each or 5 for $5- another great deal! I was able to treat my sister and I to the movie and snacks for only $15 without sacrificing any of movie going experience. I have never been to one of the weeknight movies but for at the Saturday night movie, you can even purchase wine or beer. We do not have other movie theaters that you can drink alcohol at in the area, so this is a definite selling point for some!

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Upcoming Movies~

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Other upcoming events~

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35 While 35. January 20, 2015

Filed under: Adventures — Jessica @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

I like to make these lists every birthday. They are mostly just small tasks/adventures that don’t really make the cut as far as my quarterly goal lists go, but they are things I want to incorporate in my life just the same. Some of these goals are steps in the bigger picture plans, but most are not. I think it’s fun to have a yearly “bucket list” to keep life fun and interesting.

Cheers to another year of good living!

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1. Master a gluten-free bread recipe

2. Learn how to debone a whole chicken

3. Go on a long kayaking adventure

4. Reach 1,500 likes on the blog Facebook page

5. Get my driver’s license

6. Take a weekend trip with Tiffany

7. Get my bike fixed and ride it everywhere!

8. Have a backyard dinner party

9. Get the basement organized/get rid of things

10. Read 52 books

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11. Write gratitude letters to the people I love

12. Outdoor yoga

13. Switch over to all homemade/natural cleaning products

14. Get a puppy.

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15. Play more games.

16. Make my own almond butter

17. Volunteer work

18. Have a romantic blanket picnic by the water

19. Wrap really fancy presents

20. Up my gardening game

21. Learn how to can on my own

22. Get out and enjoy community events more.

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23. Go camping for a weekend

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24. Research my genealogy

25. Go an entire week without watching TV

26. Work up to posting on the blog every week day.

27. Explore new music

28. Go to NYC (it’s been far too long)

29. Pay off Credit Card

30. Reduce the amount of garbage we produce at home

31. Fly a kite

32. Make my own pasta

33. Save Coffee for Sundays/outings with friends and drink tea the rest of the time.

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34. Get involved at church beyond the Sunday service.

35. Save $500

 

Weekend Adventures: Wine Trail. October 11, 2014

Filed under: Adventures,Local Events,random — Jessica @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

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If you are looking for something to do this weekend, I recommend you check out the local wine trail. You would never think that Western New York was wine country,but we are blessed with many wineries in the area that offer a wide variety of wines. My family decided to enjoy a kid free Sunday Funday (very rare) and have some grown up fun last weekend. My mama, aunt, sister (not the 18yr old one), brother and a friend of the family loaded into my step dad’s mini van and he drove us along the wine trail. You should definitely consider having a designated driver, it is easy to drink a bit too much with so many small tastes. We only made it to 7  of the wineries this time, but I have been to most of them at one time or another.

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Before leaving, I packed some snacks. Snacks are essential when drinking all afternoon. I brought healthy stuff- veggies, an herby greek yogurt dip, hummus, gluten free pretzels and some fresh fruit (not pictured). My aunt brought cheese, pepperoni and crackers.

 

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Our first stop Mazza Chautauqua Cellars . This is a really clean, simple place. There is a small tasting bar, a small cafe area (which has always been closed when I have been there) and a small shop area. The employees are always super friendly and helpful. I enjoy their Bare Bones White and Bare Bones Red- depending on the season. They are great table wines and a safe bet to bring to share at a book club or dinner party.

 

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Next up was Johnson Estate Winery. When I used to drink sweet wine, I drank A LOT of their Concord. It’s like grape juice. While I am happy not to drink such sweet wine anymore, I like some of their other ones and I love the space. It is kind of dark and cellar like in here, in a really beautiful way. My family members are not actually big wine drinkers so they really enjoyed some of the sweet wines offered here. I bought a bottle of their Proprietor’s Red. Another semi dry table wine that goes with just about anything.

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Noble Winery was our third stop. This may be my favorite winery. They offer a wide range of wines, but more than their wine, I really enjoy the atmosphere. It is a large space and very open. There is seating indoors and out. They offer cheese plates and some other small dishes, but they strongly encourage you to pack a picnic and enjoy it on the property overlooking the vineyards. The staff is very friendly too. My favorite part of this place has absolutely nothing to do with wine. They have dogs there. They just roam the property and visit with people. They are super nice and love to get their bellies rubbed. I only saw one this time but there have been two the other times I visited. I bought a bottle of their Marechal Foch described as “Dry earthy wine with a splash of dark cherry & bramble,pairs well w/greek food”. This was my first time tasting it and I really liked it. (I haven’t been into reds in a couple of years and I am happy to be back to them this Fall)

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After some snacks in the car, our next step was Quincy Cellars. I absolutely love this space and put it on the short list for possible future wedding venues long before I had a partner I even considered marrying. My family was not a huge fan of the wines offered here because there wasn’t much sweet stuff on the tasting menu, but I always enjoy their wines. I don’t remember exactly what I bought here, but I am pretty sure it was a white wine. I like to keep a few around for lighter dinners that would be overpowered by a red wine.

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Next up was a family favorite, Heritage Wine Cellars. While I think the space is pretty interesting and I sometimes like the informal vibe, I am not that into their wines. They all just seem a bit too sweet for me. They just leave an open bottle of each of their wines on the counter with little tasting cups and it is kind of a free for all. I think I might get a better read off from some of their wines if they were chilled. Luckily, my family really enjoys their sweet wines and bought more here than anywhere else.

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Next we visited a winery I had never been to and will most likely never return to, Arrowhead Wine Cellars. The space definitely felt more like a store than a winery with tons of merchandise like cheesy tshirts and wine novelty items everywhere and the staff was pretty rude. They did have a good Chardonnay and I am not usually a fan. My family enjoyed some of their sparkling wines.

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Our last stop was mostly for me, Sensory Winery & Art Gallery. This is just such a cool space and I love seeing the ever changing art exhibits. They always have different wines here because they generally only make a big enough batch to last about a year, so there is always something new to try. Most of the wines here are on the drier side, which is perfect for me.

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My failed attempt at a sibling photo. I cut off part of my sister’s face and you wouldn’t even know my brother was supposed to be in here. This honestly had more to do with being very out of practice taking group selfie shots with and actual camera than it did with the wine I had been drinking 😉

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It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Fall is my favorite time to go on a mini wine tour because you get the added bonus of enjoying the beautiful fall colors in our area. There is a small fee for tasting at some wineries, but none are more than $5 and many are free. I always spend quite a bit of money stocking up on wine, but you don’t have to do that and you would have a really fun experience without spending much money.

Have you ever been on a wine tour? What is your favorite winery you have visited?

 

Gardening. July 2, 2013

Gardening is something I have always been kind of interested in. My immediate family members are not gardeners,(they aren’t even really vegetable eaters), so I didn’t have much opportunity to learn first hand growing up. Over the years, I have read many books on gardening, but I still didn’t really know what I was doing until I actually just got my hands in the dirt and learned through trial, error and the wisdom of other gardeners I spoke with. Last year was the first year that I successfully grew anything besides herbs and it was one of the best feelings in the world. I was hooked. It just feels so “right” to grow food, pick it, clean it, prepare it and feed it to the people you love. It is how food is supposed to work. With just two 12×4 foot raised beds at one of our community garden sites and some containers in the backyard, we grew enough vegetables to feed us all summer and did quite a bit of canning and freezing. We just recently used up the last of what was in the freezer.

Needless to say, I could not wait to get started this year. I ordered my seeds from Seed Savers without any real plan or layout in mind. I may have ordered a bit too much, but as long as I store them properly, I can save some for next year. Between the 2 raised beds at the garden and an expanded collection of containers, we have a pretty good selection of vegetables this year. Kale, rainbow chard, beets, carrots, a variety of lettuces, spinach, green beans, a variety of peppers both sweet and hot, several kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, basil, dill, mint, chives and even watermelon have all been planted. I am also hoping to get some peas since they don’t take too long to mature. I was hoping to get butternut squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers and potatoes planted but it just didn’t happen.

Despite uncooperative weather (lots of rain and gloom), things seem to be going okay. They are not all growing as quickly as they would under ideal conditions, but they are still healthy and slowly growing. Hopefully the sunshine comes and sticks around for awhile soon!

Here is one of the beds in bloom last year-

I will post updates and pictures as things start producing more.

Did you plant a garden? What did you plant?