The Brains and Beauties Behind Alchemy Wine & Beer

Nicole Casell & Anne McIntosh - owners of Alchemy Wine & Beer  (photo courtesy of Nicole and Anne at Alchemy)

Nicole Casell & Anne McIntosh - owners of Alchemy Wine & Beer

(photo courtesy of Nicole and Anne at Alchemy)

Its Thanksgiving week and while I have many things to be thankful for I thought I would kick off the week by featuring two women who I was lucky to meet a couple weeks ago. Nicole Casell and Anne McIntosh are the beauty and the brains behind the AMAZING Alchemy Wine & Beer in Hamburg.

(photo courtesy of Nicole and Anne at Alchemy)

(photo courtesy of Nicole and Anne at Alchemy)

Having opened in June the two gals put everything they had into opening a one of a kind space where all are welcome. Learn more about these two powerhouse women below.

(photo Just a Blonde in Buffalo)

(photo Just a Blonde in Buffalo)

How did you two meet?

  • About a decade ago. Nicole’s best friend is Anne’s sister in law. Since then the two have traveled around the world together.

How did Alchemy start?

  • With their passion of wine. It was always an idea and passion project and as the both of them traveled together they continued to find great establishments. While they were in New Orleans they visited a wine bar and in the backyard of the establishment the inspiration came to them and from that inspiration snowballed Alchemy.

(photo Just a Blonde in Buffalo Instagram @bybuffalob)

(photo Just a Blonde in Buffalo Instagram @bybuffalob)

Why Hamburg?

  • While looking at locations, they looked at the City of Buffalo, but having a couple wine bars already, they decided to plant roots in the southtowns. Why? because the southtowns didn’t have any wine bars and it just made sense. Anne was born and raised in Hamburg and Nicole recently made the move with her family to Hamburg from Buffalo.

What do you love best about Buffalo?

  • The size of Buffalo is the perfect size for a city. The amount of events and activities that take place, its condensed, but big enough to still explore and find new things.

While I was talking with Nicole and Anne, I learned a lot more about them. As you can imagine, opening a business is tough, a lot of time, money and dreams are put on the line and Nicole and Anne did it all on their own. People may have a preconceived notion that they own a business and have staff to do everything, but they are not absentee owners, they are involved and have been involved from the ground up. Alchemy is the outcome of hard work and passion from two normal women who are only in their 30’s.

Here are some other things I’d like you to know:

  • The wine at Alchemy is wine you will not find at your local stores. It’s limited, small batch, boutique wines, opening the customers to experience wine from many regions. It’s meant to show people that wine does not have to be over thought.

  • They also serve beer and cider (for those non wine drinkers).

  • Nicole and Anne are level one Sommelier’s.

  • They have a work life blend - never being unplugged, finding balance and structure is unique, but well worth it.

  • Don’t be afraid to pay for help. Nicole and Anne opened a business not really having a background in business, but pursuing a dream and they learned as they went. Ask questions and do research.

  • Alchemy is meant to be casual, it’s meant to be a gathering space

  • Alchemy is not a sit down, full service restaurant. It is a place that offers an array of appetizers/shared plates - easy and humble food (*check out their Charcuterie board next time you’re there).

  • Alchemy is a wine bar community space

(photo courtesy of Nicole and Anne at Alchemy)

(photo courtesy of Nicole and Anne at Alchemy)

Nicole and Anne continue to keep moving forward and growing and as they do so they are paying it forward. They have learned so much in a short amount of time and are willing to share their experiences with others.

In the short amount of time I spent with the both of them, I learned so much and am so thankful for the opportunity to share their story. As a woman in her 30’s these two ladies are very inspiring and meeting with them only motivates me to pursue those passions I have for myself.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with these takeaways that have stuck with me since I met with Nicole and Anne- level set your expectations, find balance, learn to delegate tasks, have a good team and don’t ever give up on something your passionate about. Thank you Nicole and Anne for being the kick ass gals that you are.



If you follow Alchemy on social media you know they host an array of events, from collaborating with crafters and artists, to hosting live music, tastings and wellness events, any event you attend gives off a feel good vibe. Alchemy is open to collaborating with more people so if you have an event you’d like to host, reach out!

The Happiest of Happy Hours at the Strong Museum of Play

Just a couple weeks ago my friend Arica and I along with some of her co-workers attended the Happiest of Happy Hours (an after hours, adult event at the museum). Even though I was there for a special event, the museum was so much fun.

Maybe its just because I was excited to be attending an event at a place I haven't been before, who knows, but they had many exhibits for people to explore. I can't imagine you not having a good time, kid or adult there is something for everyone. So if you're looking for something fun to do while on break this week? Take a fun day trip to the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester.


Happy Dyngus Day!!

The weather is supposed to be beautiful and what better way to celebrate a Monday - than to drink some Tyskie and Zywiec beer and listen to polka music in the historic Polonia district in Buffalo, where Paderewski Drive will be bustling with people later today. It's been a couple years since I've celebrated this day, but I'm looking forward to showing some of my co-workers what Dyngus Day is about and meeting up with some of my friends that I haven't seen in a while. For more info on maps, places to go, etc. check out for all the info.




Cheers to the Weekend!

FullSizeRender (8)

{Repping the Buffalo in the 585}

If you live in Buffalo and are looking for something to do this weekend a short trip down the 90 to Black Button Distilling is a good place to go! When Jason Barrett, owner of the distillery reached out and invited me to come see the distillery I am not going to lie, I was pretty excited for the invitation! It made for a fun Saturday afternoon visiting my friend Arica who moved to Rochester from Buffalo a few months ago. When we arrived we were greeted with smiles, laughs and a delicious cocktail {Bees Knees}. With are cocktails in hand, we took a tour of the distillery to learn how Black Button Distilling was started, how the distilling process works and what they offer. After the tour we had a tasting before purchasing some product to take home with us.



black button barrels

It was a fun afternoon and one of the best distilleries I've been to. A few facts to know:

  • Black Button Distillery is 2 1/2 years old
  • It is 100% a Farm Bureau Distillery
  • Jason's parents have a Button factory in Rochester
  • Jason moved out West {Washington} and won a best distiller award in the United States at the age of 24
  • Black Button removes the propanol which is an ingredient that causes you to have hangovers
  • When I asked Jason what his favorite drink is right now - Bees Knees {in it - Black Button Citrus Forward Gin, Lemon Juice and Honey Syrup}  its sooo good!
  • Looking to have a party - try a bottle making party at the distillery - click here for the details.


bees knees

{Ready for the tasting part of the tour}

A Nice Way to Watch A Film

IMG_7758 {Just a Blonde in Buffalo photos}


Did you know that when Shea's opened in 1926 it was actually built to show silent films?!?  Sunday my Mom and I attended the silent film Sherlock Holmes there. When I first got the tickets I thought it was a play, but then my Mom was quick to point out that it was a silent film {note to myself to read better} no words just a pianist playing scores throughout the films 90 minutes. I was a little skeptical, I'm not going to lie. I was thinking I would want to leave halfway through the film, but it was actually amazing! It was like I experienced something from back in time - a black and white film with no words, just music. It was a nice change of scenery and something different. I highly recommend attending a short film at Shea's if you ever can. It makes for a nice indoor activity to do when the weather isn't so nice out outside.


{A brief welcome and introduction before the film started}

Oh and the best part - it was free! A free film in a beautiful building that celebrated their 90th anniversary this weekend. That's pretty cool Buffalo. Oh and for those who like popcorn and candy to munch on when watching a movie - Shea's had their concession stands open, selling sweet treats {the popcorn and twizzlers cost $8 - that's cheaper than a movie ticket now a days}. Just putting things in perspective, its nice to have a beautiful venue like this offer nice {casual} events like this.


For a calendar of events taking place at Shea's click here


Woman Who Move Buffalo - Vanessa from MUSEjar

vanessa muse jar{Just a Blonde in Buffalo photo}

Making my way to the beautiful East Aurora, I walked into Musejar for the first time and literally shouted out how much I loved the space and just stood there for a minute to take it all in. So if you didn't know already today I am featuring Vanessa from MUSE Jar on the blog as a Woman Who Moves Buffalo because of her pure creativity and passion she has brought into the Western New York community.

Majoring in the film industry in NYC Vanessa moved back home and started working at Red Fish Art Studio {located next door to Musejar}. While she was there she noticed that there weren’t any art supply stores in the area and decided to open shop.

2+ years later things are only getting bigger and better for her. Not only does Musejar offer a wide variety of supplies {paint brushes, chalk spray paint, Rublev Natural Paint Pigment, etc.}, but she also hosts an array of art classes {public and private} , parties for all ages {Birthday, Bridal, Holiday, etc.} and collaborates with a lot of local businesses in and out of East Aurora on a number of events. And if you don’t see an art supply you need, she can order them for you!

muse jar pic{Just a Blonde in Buffalo photos}

muse jar 2

Outside of her store, Vanessa does offer offsite lessons and parties – she has done workshops with Fisher Price and has started working with Mandala School in East Aurora to help fill a void with art programs being cut. Her business is a great space to go, for those who still want to get a great art experience.

muse jar 4{Just a Blonde in Buffalo photo}

When asked what some of her favorite areas of her business are, she said she loves the farm-to-table events and wants to grow them more, hoping to make it more of a retreat and offering the full experience. She loves events where she can collaborate with other people and businesses. "The possibilities are endless when you can work with more people." Hosting kids birthday parties are also a favorite of Vanessa’s. "The raw creativity that comes out of it is amazing." Being surrounded by creativity everyday keeps her very inspired. Instructors and students who walk through these doors, they are all a daily inspiration for her.

muse jar 3{Just a Blonde in Buffalo photo}

When I asked her what she loves about Western New York she said she loves the East Aurora community, everyone is very supportive of one another and help each other to succeed. The town is changing and evolving and people are being open-minded. Being here is exciting, young families are moving back and the area feels like a “little Brooklyn.”

There are a number of things about MUSEjar that I love, but the one that sticks out the most is that it’s one of a kind. Vanessa taps into areas that you don’t normally think of. When talking with Vanessa she gives off a great energy and you can tell she loves what she does and is passionate in her work. I asked her what MUSEjar means and she said an inspirational jar. She wants people to walk in the store and get inspired, by the supplies, artwork and environment. The goal is to have the store be one large jar of inspiration and it certainly was for me.

Stop by the Holiday Market event she is hosting on December 19th during the East Aurora Carolcade. Come before, during or after the event to check out her shop and the other participating vendors. Let's help make this a destination spot to visit every year.

1447278717532[1]{MUSEjar photo from website}


#BuffaloLinks - Lewiston Edition

With my trip to Lewiston Saturday night I thought I would focus my Buffalo Links on that area this week. Every time I make a visit out there are I always wish I had more time to walk the streets and pay visits to the local businesses.


{Photo - The Lewiston Stone House Website}

A wine bar that was recommended by a co-worker/friend, this is a must visit place on my list of things to do. The Lewiston Stone House

the-village-bake-shoppe{Photo - Village Bake Shoppe Website}

A dessert shop that was closed when walking by {that is a good thing} the sweet treats that I saw look like they would taste heavenly. The Village Bake Shoppe

FullSizeRender (2)

A quaint little bar and restaurant on Center St. in Lewiston. Apple Granny's offers a wide variety of American style food items. Definitely a place I would visit again.


A cute shop I wish was open, so I could have stopped in Sister & Brother a children's apparel store looks like they are on my list to visit next time.




A day trip to Olcott, NY

FullSizeRenderOver the weekend one of the places I paid a visit to was Olcott, NY. Having never been there before I didn't know much other than it holds a beautiful place to take in a sunrise or sunset. Even though the last I heard you couldn't swim at the beach because of the water, the area hosts beautiful small town shops, ice cream stands, a pier to fish off of, and an awesome Carousel/kids area where you can take the little ones to ride rides and play skee-ball, making it a perfect afternoon with the family. On Sunday's you can visit the Van Horn Mansion for free. Looking to explore? You can hike the Burt Dam trail and walk inside the Olcott Beach Lighthouse.

Looking for something to do this weekend - they are hosting a Classic Car Show all day. While Olcott, is only about a 40 minute drive from the City of Buffalo, the small town feel makes you feel like you're on a mini-vacation.



Women Who Move Buffalo {Once and For All - Molly Hoeltke}

FullSizeRender (2)

{Molly Hoeltke}

Have you ever met a person that you could be around for a few minutes and already feel motivated to follow your dreams because they are so passionate about theirs? That’s what happened to me when I met Molly Hoeltke from Once and For All (formerly Once Vintage).

I was lucky enough to sit down with Molly last week. Growing up she never thought of working in the Fashion Industry, but as she went through school she studied Business focusing on the Arts. As she grew in her career she learned the ins and outs of the fashion industry through the experiences she had with marketing and film industry. She started styling in films {specifically commercials} six years ago and during her time in Manhattan she met a vintage shop owner and that is when she started to fall in love with the vintage apparel.

She moved back home and through all of the unique experiences she had – she was able to put together her own business and help it grow. In 2011 Once Vintage was created – a clothing line full of repurposing and vintage. After 2 years in – in 2013 she made the transition to wholesale and started Once and For All - a limited wholesale line that can be found online and in boutiques across the United States – specifically 10 boutiques throughout the East Coast.

Molly self-taught herself in pattern making, sewing, manufacturing and selling and everything in between - she basically learned everything she needs to know to make her business work and has given herself a fashion degree while learning on her feet.

Her focus right now is on a line with soft fabrics, twills, blues, blacks and whites – like a west coast, bohemian feel. She is evolving her line into a more mature, yet retro feel with an Indie/Australia vibe with cuts being more versatile and wearable for all sizes. She finds inspiration from some of her favorite designers – Chloe, The Row, Isabel Marant, Mara Hoffman and Cali Brands.

When I asked her what she loves best about Buffalo and why she hasn’t moved out of the area she said because Buffalo is a great place to start a business. It’s an easy lifestyle {except the winter}. There is a supportive community {most of the time}, she has a supportive family and it’s inexpensive to live. She loves going out to her country house in Varysburg on the weekends and often times finds inspiration there.

You can find Molly’s line locally in Modern Nostalgia on Hertel Ave. and Anna Grace on Elmwood Ave.

Once and For All is a very definitive and inclusive name. From a woman who has deep faith, it has personal meaning to her and represents her brand and all different women. I can say from meeting Molly she represents a strong woman, who is passionate and driven all while creating an amazing clothing line and has an amazing future ahead of her. And to have this talent in Buffalo is pretty extraordinary.

Thanks Molly for letting me share your story! -B

FullSizeRender (1)

{Her Studio}

Friday Favorites!

Christmas has come and gone and with that came a lot of laughs, memories and carbs! I hope you all had a wonderful week and enjoy this weekend! -B


{Post confetti for the ball drop in NYC, we all wrote down what we wished for, for 2015}


{Like a true New Yorker, this Metro Card came in handy last weekend!}


{The best place in Albany, NY ---Café Madison!}


{Christmas Eve at my Aunt's house is always the best. I love the childhood books and toys I saw on Christmas Eve. Classic traditions!}


{See this on the gift tags? It will never get old. To Beth From Santa}