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MAMATOGA Saratoga’s First Parenting Magazine

Teaching Thankfulness 3 Present Christmas

Local Giving

The Beaufort Bonnet Company


care for

your little ones Specializing in Pediatric Dentistry for Children in an environment where they can feel

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We provide continuous support during pregnancy, birth and beyond with our Midwives & Our Team of All Female Obstetricians.

Jennifer Kittell, CNM Brittany Krotzer, CNM Emily Yeast, CNM Allison Herrick, CNM Dr. Kathryn Leopold Dr. Ali Doyle Dr. Susan Bradford Dr. Patricia Snyder Dr. Jennifer Bashant Dr. Diana Sustar

6 Carpenter Lane, Saratoga Springs, NY (518) 583-0020

45 Hudson Ave., Glens Falls, NY (518) 793-4477

Visit our website at:

All School Open House Saturday January 24, 2015 10am-1pm High School - 122 Regent Street Lower & Middle School - 62 York Ave Early Childhood Center - 212 Lake Ave Forest Kindergarten - 45 Kaydeross Ave West Learn More:

Letter from the Editor Happy Holidays everyone! For this Letter from the Editor I wanted to talk about the cover photo and the amazing job TC Paris Bakery did in helping me bring my little idea to reality. Created by Matt Fagan of TC Paris in Saratoga Springs, this amazing gingerbread construction was sculpted in representation of Santa’s Cottage, a yearly anticipated tradition on Broadway in Saratoga. Matt, being one of the most talented cake sculptors in the area, created and detailed the gingerbread in the likeness of the original. Each piece is hand crafted in fondant.   The snowy roof top, to match the cold Saratoga December days, was created by delicately working with royal icing. It’s a perfect example of how our community works together to celebrate everything that makes it special. I called the Downtown Business Association to get some photos and they sent them right over, and Matt got right to work, all of us excited to celebrate one of the holiday favorites of local families. I highly recommend making something from TC Paris Bakery part of your holiday celebrations (my personal favorite, besides

the macarons, is the Celebration of Rum cake, you can thank me later). Chef Brianne, a graduate of CIA, brings authentic french dessert cakes, like the Dacquoise (Hazelnut meringue cake, with espresso buttercream and Valrhona chocolate ganache) and the traditional Gateau Basque, filled with their homemade pastry cream and in-house brandied cherries. A huge thanks to them for helping create a special cover for this issue, and you can find it this holiday season in their shop and also on select days right there in the actual Santa’s Cottage. In this issue you will find everything you need to celebrate the holidays Family Style in Saratoga, from ice skating at Saratoga Spa State Park to the Holiday Guide and Gift Guides featuring local moms and local products. Plus throughout the issue you will find links to the local businesses that have supported Mamatoga and make it possible to bring you all this great info. Sending out much love to all of you this holiday season, may it be filled with togetherness and happiness for all of you.

xoxo - Jenny

Jenny Witte

CEO & Founder

Jake Van Ness

Creative Director

Mamatoga, LLC


Markey Hutchinson


Winter Wonderland




What Can a Lawyer Do For Me? 21 Adventures in Co-Parenting


One for You, One for Them


Portrait of an Artist


Meet TJ


Ten Ways to Thankfulness


Age Appropriate Picks 36 3 Present Christmas 40

Rachel’s List 44

Robin’s Prezzies 46

From Amber 48 Chelsea’s List 50 A Love For The Classics 54 Ages and Pages



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Katie Nemer Katie is a Toga mama to Jackson (12), Zoe (3), Preston (1) and Cocoa (the family lab). She and her husband, Josh, are huge fans of Saratoga and of Mamatoga magazine.  Julie Cox is Jackson’s stepmom and Katie’s Co-author for their column, “Adventures in Co-Parenting”.   Together they share their story about the many benefits, challenges, and humorous events that arise when sharing a child between two houses. Katie also took the fabulous cover shot for this issue.

Robin Dalton

Robin is originally from New York City and graduated from Cornell University. In 2008, she moved to Saratoga Springs and joined Roohan Realty. She is an avid marathon runner and Ironman triathlete and the co-The Saratoga Social columnist for the Saratogian newspaper. Mrs. Dalton lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband Matt and their three young children; sons John Matthew and Charlie, and baby girl Alice, as well as their beloved lab Smushie.

Jennifer Armstrong Jennifer, an independent fashion consultant, is also an author of over 100 books for children and teens and the 2004 winner of the New York State Library Association’s Knickerbocker Award in Juvenile Literature for her body of work.   Her daughter, Dani, is in 8th grade.  Jennifer works part-time in the children’s department at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs and invites you and your kids to visit her at the store on Saturdays!


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Julie Cox You can often spot Julie around town doing one or more of the following things: chasing one of her three boys, Jackson (12), Declan (4), and Beckett (1), educating teenagers about Shakespeare/aliens/grammar, driving her sweet minivan between various sports and activities, and chugging coffee in the midst of all the organized chaos.  But most likely you will find her wandering the aisles of the grocery store where she spends the bulk of her time stockpiling food for the aforementioned three boys who are, for the most part, very very hungry.

Rachel Uccellini Rachel Uccellini is a member of the Board of Trustees for Troy Prep, an Uncommon School. She has been honored to be involved in the Uncommon network, modeled on some of the highest-performing urban public charter schools in the country. More locally, she participates on the planning committee for the Adult and Senior Center of Saratoga, focusing on its annual Music and Mingling event. When she’s not jogging her daughter, Eliza (2) all about Saratoga, Rachel sings in the Skidmore Community Chorus and also enjoys cooking and entertaining with her husband, Tommy. Come winter, the Uccellini’s travel to Killington, Vermont every weekend to ski. Eliza hasn’t quite gotten her ski legs yet, but it won’t be long now.

Jake Van Ness Jake is a graphic designer and the owner of Graphic Precision, a design firm serving clients locally and nationally. With over 16 years experience in the design and printing industries, Jake provides his clients with cutting edge branding and marketing design in print, as well as online. Graphic Precision has received numerous national awards for it’s design work, including two for the design and layout of Mamatoga Magazine. Having grown up in Saratoga Springs, Jake enjoys working as the Creative Director for a magazine based in his home town. Learn more about Jake and his design firm Graphic Precision at

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SHARING OUR KNOWLEDGE WITH YOU IN 2015! We have lots of new initiatives in place for the new year that will make shopping at Healthy Living Market and Café better than ever. In 1986 when we first opened our doors, we believed in the power of teaching people about great, healthy, fresh food. More than ever, we still believe in that. This year you’ll see a bunch of new Learning Center classes dedicated to feeding yourself, your family and your friends food that makes them happy… and healthy! Classes for kids have proved super-popular, so we're creating a bunch of new, more-fun-than-ever classes for budding young chefs. Check it all out at and come learn with us!


• Lifelong Love of Learning • Self Motivation

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Markey Hutchinson

FROM THE BEAUFORT BONNET COMPANY Photo by Kristin Tatem Photography

Scrolling through Instagram one day I came upon an adorable photo of a little girl wearing the most beautiful vintage style bonnet and I immediately fell in love. I clicked on the link for the Beaufort Bonnet Company and found a darling collection of classic, coordinating clothing pieces, accessories and giftables for children, including the signature bonnet, entirely unlike anything you see up here in Upstate New York. I am a sucker for traditional children’s clothes, and these pieces are so well made and thoughtfully designed, they are like little heirlooms you’ll want to keep and pass down after they are outgrown. After my first order arrived, I dug a little deeper in The Beaufort Bonnet Company history and found it was owned and designed by a mom with two little ones, Markey Hutchinson, and I knew I just had to feature her and her story in Mamatoga.


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Tell us a little about how TBBC got started. I saw a friend’s baby girl wearing a bonnet as I was scrolling through FB one day. I was pregnant with my 2nd child, Betsey.  I told her I had to have it.  She went to a boutique in Beaufort, SC and purchased one for Betsey.  When my baby girl came along she didn’t have hair for a hair bow- so she became a bonnet baby right out of the gate.   I found the bonnet to be just as useful as it was cute.  The brim shaded her entire face- she’d wear it to the pool, beach, on walks, to the park, etc.  People would go CRAZY over it.  We were stopped everywhere we went by women of all ages asked where to get the bonnet.  I’d send them all to the website of the business who made them.   People I didn’t even know where contacting me on facebook asking about Betsey’s bonnet.  One day a friend told me the website I was sending her to was no longer there- sure enough- it was gone.  I contacted the owner to inquire about the website- I also asked if I could be a sales rep since I was already referring


her so much business. She said she was getting so many orders via her website she had to take it down.  The previous business had two seamstresses and they couldn’t keep up with demand.   She also had twin toddlers and had just lost her father- she was understandably overwhelmed.  Instead of looking for a sales rep- she was more interested in finding a buyer.  I said, how much?  Three months later I owned that little bonnet business and my team and I have grown it substantially in the past 2.5 years.

What are some of the challenges you face as a working mom? I tried being a stay at home mom- it was the hardest job I had ever had. Women who stay home with their children are phenomenal people.  Before I tried my hand as a stay at home mother I was a ‘working mom’ which was very challenging as well.  And now I’m in a whole new categorya mom who owns a business.  Owning my own business has been like having another child that I have to nurture and love because it needs to become very successful one day.    The main challenge associated with my dual role is balancing the time I need to dedicate to the business and the time I spend with my children.  Sadly, I can’t tell you which has received more of my attention- but I will say, my determination to grow this business is for my children. 

Now tell us a little about TBBC style. Up here in NY we don’t see too many bonnets (I want to change that!), what do you think is different about the style where you live? Speaking of NY- Sarah Jessica Parker’s twins were photographed wearing Beaufort Bonnets in Manhattan and were featured in People Magazine a few years ago.   People Magazine called them THE mini must have.  Despite the attention the twins received- bonnets didn’t make a comeback in New York… but I think we are making some ground now.  Usually styles or brands ignite in NY and spread like wild fire to the rest of the world.  In our case, the fire started in the south east- and now we are in stores in California, New York, Massachusetts, London, etc.   Web sales from New York, Wyoming, and Colorado don’t even make us bat an eye anymore.  The bonnet has had a facelift and we’ve made it relevant again.  TBBC style is vintage preppy… and there’s no question it’s drenched in southern charm.  I am inspired by children’s fashion from the 40s, 50s, and 60s- many of the styles just need a little tweaking to avoid looking too retro, or too country.   I love classic and traditional items…to me (and a lot of southerners), preppy isn’t a fashion trend- it’s style.

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What are some of your absolute favorite pieces from TBBC? Wow, that’s the hardest questions yet! My favorite pieces are the Bow Swaddle, Beaufort Bonnet, Catesby Country Club Bonnet, Hair Bow Holder, Dalton Diaper Cover, seersucker towels, and the new sunsuits and swimsuits for boys. I know I just named a lot of items but narrowing it down from 50+ products that I’ve poured my heart and soul into is next to impossible.

feel good about this purchase. The brim is like a baby’s personal umbrella, it’s washable, interchangeable, and out of this world adorable. Pretty AND practical is extremely important to me. For example, our paci-clip is the cutest one on the market (I can claim that, right?) and unlike other brands, it accommodates any style pacifier. Our seersucker jon jons can be washed a gazillion times and still look great. The bow tie… well, I could go on and on….

What are some of your must haves as a mom? Favorite products for you? Favorite products for kids?

I read in an interview where you said, “my eyes smile when I see babies dressed like babies”, and I completely agree with that sentiment. Can you expand a little on this statement as far as style and your design ideas for TBBC?

As a mom, my favorite ‘mommy’ must haves are the Isabel Beach Bag and Bonnie Beach Towel. You can’t beat a huge waterproof monogrammed beach bag and a big beach towel with chair ties! For children, I’ll have to say the Beaufort Bonnet is easily my favorite product- not only is it pretty- it’s practical; our customers (even fathers) should

My eyes smile when I see babies dressed like babies. When I was expecting my first child everyone and their mother (and their mother’s brother) told me to cherish and embrace it because time flies. They weren’t lying. Children grow like weeds; why rush the baby phase? They have their whole lives to dress like grown-ups. Currently, the Beaufort


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begin); I worked countless 15+ hour days. My children would get SO SO excited when I’d ‘leave work’ (which sometimes meant just coming upstairs for dinner). One day a babysitter got Betsey, my daughter ready for me to take her to gymnastics; Betsey came downstairs to remind me it was time to go. There were probably 5 of us working when Betsey came down and yelled‘we’re going to ‘nastics- praise the Lord’! We all died laughing. Wakefield, my son has finally started to accept and understand that I have to work – when he comes to the office he likes to take boxes and build his own desk and pretend he has important papers. He’ll ask one of the girls to staple his papers or help him with the three hole punch- sometimes he’ll ask me if I’d like to ‘instagram’ his work-ha. Orchestrating childcare and running a business is really hard- just like juggling as you put it; sometimes you just do what you have to do to make it work. After 2.5 years I feel like the business has gotten to a place where I can focus more on being a good mother. When childcare falls through or a babysitter needs to leave early I no longer panic. Because of the sacrifices I made initially, I have earned the ability to leave work and go and be with my children and know my awesome and AMAZING team can hold down the fort. And likewise, now that there are 13 of us- we can all help each other balance work and motherhood. M

Bonnet Company items are designed for ‘babies’ ages 0/3m to 4T. We encourage our customers to remember they are only little for a little while. Babies are only babies once.

What are some of your favorite holiday family traditions? Santa brings pajamas to all the children in our family (my children and their cousins) on Christmas Eve; it’s the one gift they get to unwrap the night before Christmas. They love going to bed wearing the pjs Santa delivered just for them. I also like putting a basket of Christmas books by the fireplace the entire month of December. It’s so funny how they want their favorite stories read over and over again- I love it!

Can you tell us one funny story about TBBC and juggling work and motherhood? The Beaufort Bonnet Company used to be a basement operation (where all great businesses

Ultrasound packages starting at $69.00! Schedule your appointment today!

518-583-0524 or online at:

ATC_Buy Local_SL_2014_7 x 4-625_Layout 1 11/4/2014 12:15 PM Page 1

When you support locally owned Saratoga Springs area businesses, you help them support our community. (Now that’s the holiday spirit.) The Saratoga area is a magical place to live and work, with so many great shops, terrific restaurants, and all the services you need. When you support locally owned and operated businesses, you’re helping them contribute to our community life. Thanks to local businesses, which help to sponsor special events like the Victorian Streetwalk, First Night, Chowderfest, and the Saratoga Arts Festival, there is so much more to do in our community. Remember that your locally owned service, retail, restaurant, and professional firms donate to hundreds of local charities, helping to improve the quality of life throughout our community.

Member FDIC © 2014 The Adirondack Trust Company

This holiday season, be part of the holiday spirit. Please support your locally owned and operated businesses.


r e t n i W d n a l r e d n o W

click the location links and explore

Ice Skating Saratoga Springs Ice Rinks Saratoga Spa State Park Clifton Park Ice Arena Crandall Park in Glens Falls Schenectady County Recreation Facility Empire State Plaza Ice Rink in Albany

Snow Shoeing Saratoga Spa State Park - Rentals available Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park - Rentals and Guided tours available Saratoga National Historical Park and Saratoga Battlefield - Cross-country skiing also available Moreau Lake State Park - Cross-country skiing also available

Tubing Tubby Tubes Lake George Rec Center West Mountain Gore Mountain Willard Mountain

Skiing & Snow Boarding West Mountain Gore Willard Whiteface

What Can a Lawyer Do For Me? by Tracy L. Bullett, Esq.


lmost everything we do in life - making purchases, driving a car, interacting with others - is affected by the law in some way. Of course, you do not need a lawyer for all these general everyday interactions. So, when do you need a lawyer?

Another way to find a lawyer is to contact the New York State Bar Association or your local county bar association for a referral.

When do I need a lawyer?

Finding the right lawyer is like finding the right doctor.

You should always talk with a lawyer as soon as possible:

Research. You can find out about most lawyers on the internet. Most attorney web sites provide detailed biographies including education, experience and areas of practice.

• • • •

if you are sued if you are charged with a crime before you make a statement to the police if you have been in a accident in which you sustained injuries

Other reasons you may need a lawyer: • • • • • • • • • •

you need a will, power of attorney, health care proxy, or other estate planning documents someone in your family dies you are buying or selling a home you are considering a new business venture you received a traffic ticket you are having difficulty with your son/ daughter at school, i.e. discipline or special education needs you are considering divorce you are considering adoption

How to find a lawyer? Once you have determined that you need a lawyer, how do you go about finding one? Referrals, referrals, referrals. Ask friends, family, business associates about lawyers they have used and trust. This is usually the best way to find a lawyer.

How do I choose the right lawyer for me?

Interview the lawyer. Schedule an appointment to meet and interview the lawyer. Ask if the lawyer has handled similar matters, and what the outcomes were. Consider interviewing more than one lawyer before you make your final choice. Many lawyers will do an initial consultation free of charge. Most importantly, check your feelings. One of the most important things is whether you are comfortable with the lawyer. During the interview, how did you feel? Does the lawyer respect you? Inspire your trust? Relate to you? Explain your legal situation and the proposed solution clearly and honestly? Listens to your concerns, needs, and wishes, and then responds appropriately? Will he or she be accessible? If you are comfortable on all these levels, then you have probably found the right lawyer for you.

Tracy L. Bullett, Esq. practices law at the offices of Tabner, Ryan and Keniry, LLP in Albany, New York. She has been practicing for over 13 years in the areas of estate planning, estate litigation, personal injury, education law, and real estate. To learn more about her practice please visit her at M

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Adventures in Co-Parenting The Unexpected Gifts by Katie Nemer and Julie Cox


t’s that time of year again. If you’re like us, you’ve been spending your waking hours making your gift list and checking it twice, thrice, a million times to make sure everyone is covered. Unfortunately, most people know that blood-pounding-in ears moment when presented with a lovely, thoughtful, not to mention professionally-wrapped gift from someone we never expected a gift from. Like ever. We have found that moments like this generally go a few different ways. You either have a perfectly-wrapped yet tag-less generic gift ready to roll in your back seat at all times, you awkwardly stammer something completely nonsensical, fake a phone call and run away, or, you embrace the moment, throw on a genuine smile, and thank this ninja-gift-giver for their thoughtfulness. Just as during the holidays, we are often presented with some truly unexpected gifts that having a team of coparents can present. Katie: Jackson and I were sitting at the dining room table when he whipped out his health class assignment. It was a large, glaringly blank outline of a man’s body which is supposed to be filled in and labeled. OK, I got this, no


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problem. Then he pulled out the second paper. This one was the woman. OK, deep breath, no biggie. I’m a mom with a pre-med degree, I should be able to do this. I can do this. Then out came the third sheet. I recall experiencing a sudden and intense bout of vertigo after seeing that we had to describe what these two bodies do to make babies and a paragraph warning about the various possible outcomes of such activities. Fortunately I have always been quick on my feet. I decided to take full advantage of our cohesive co-parenting relationship, whipped out my iPhone and shot a quick email to JT- “Hey, how’s the day, hope it’s good, ok so listen, Jackson needs some help with his homework. I’ll drop him off in a bit. You got this. Thanks buddy.” Sure, one day Jackson and I will have the birds and the bees chat. But for now, I feel totally comfortable letting dad sub in for a little while with the health homework while I sit back and enjoy my eggnog (while watching Elf of course). Julie: I’ll think about it. Four words that every child dreads hearing from his or her parents in response to a totally reasonable and well-thought-out request. Can’t I please

have a pony? I’ll think about it. I really really really want to paint a Frozen mural on my bedroom wall. I’ll think about it. I found this adorable baby squirrel in our backyard and he’s so very cute can we please keep it? I’ll think about... wait, no. This one’s a hard no, and get that rodent the heck out of my house. Jackson recently approached me with a detailed account of how well he’s been doing in school and how sparkling clean his room is and can he please have a few extra hours of video game time on the weekends. This was my response: “Well, Dad and Mom and Josh and I will think about it and let you know.” Yes, all four names of all four parents in that order and, creature of habit that I am, this is how I’ve been answering requests such as this for quite a while now. It’s always been clear to Jackson that his parents, all four of them, talk to one another a lot. I’d like to say that the biggest benefit of all of this is maintaining a cohesive family unit where everyone co-exists in love and peace and harmony...and yeah yeah, that’s nice and everything. But I’m going to be honest with you. The biggest and most wonderful unexpected gift of this aspect of co-parenting is this: I get to split bad-guy-status with three other people. I’m a high school teacher, so I am extremely familiar with being the bad guy, and I’ve accepted that. However, it can be

extremely draining having eyes rolled behind my back and scowls aimed in my direction at work and at home. When I step into the wonderful world of co-parenting, however, the burden is shared. Well, Dad and Mom and Josh and I talked about it and your request for more video game time has been denied. Please take comfort in knowing that we thoroughly considered your request. And there it is - I am no longer #1 bad guy du jour, I’m only a quarter bad guy now. I may not be able to live with a baby squirrel in the house or a giant Olaf on my wall, but being only a quarter bad guy as opposed to a full or even half a bad guy? That, I can live with. Conclusion: This time of year is busy, there’s no doubt about it. Amidst the gift-planning, -buying, -wrapping, and -giving, there’s also the daily haze of carpool, homework, and sneaking the leftover Halloween candy when the kids aren’t looking. With so many people to appreciate, it’s easy to overlook the unexpected gifts. We’d highly recommend taking a time out during the supreme craziness of the holidays to appreciate your co-parents or anyone else that gives you these kinds of magical unexpected gifts throughout the year. Embrace those unexpected gifts and give thanks that you are in each other’s lives. And for goodness sake, get your act together and make sure they’re on your list for next year. M

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tis the season... to SHOP



The Strand Hair Studio 358 Broadway at The Granite Palace Saratoga Springs (518) 581-1800

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DID YOU KNOW That Working Mothers make less money than both men and women without children? That women are treated poorly because they need to take breaks to pump breast milk, ask for maternity leave, or object to harassment? D’Orazio Peterson LLP is a Saratoga-based boutique litigation law firm focused on protecting women’s workplace and medical rights.

We handle cases involving: Gender and Pregnancy Discrimination Sexual Harassment – Hostile Work Environment Family and Medical Leave Act Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Please visit our website at to learn more about our firm or to schedule a free consultation. Giovanna A. D’Orazio, Partner Scott M. Peterson, Partner


Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. D’Orazio Peterson LLP, 125 High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 518.308.8339




ennifer Maher of Your Toy Portrait is one of my favorite local artists. I follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, and she has painted three portraits for us already (surely will be adding more to that gallery as well). I have always admired how she blends the creative aspects of her life, making music as a DJ and painting, with being a parent to daughter Sonja, and wanted to pick her brain a bit to see what makes her tick. How did you get started making music as a DJ? When I was a teenager in the 80’s, I lived in the Chicago area, which was the epicenter of house music just as it was emerging. I’ve always been passionate about dancing and dance music, but didn’t actually begin DJing myself until I was in graduate school in Albany in 1995. Under the DJ handle “Jennifer Haley” I played regularly at clubs and raves around the Northeast, Canada, and (occasionally) beyond, and met my husband, drum and bass DJ “Milkdud,” along the way. Greg and I sort of trade off now while the other stays home with Sonja, so we don’t get to dance to each other’s sets very often, unfortunately.  In the past year I have begun to produce my own electronic music using the ideas I’ve been accumulating over the decades, and it’s incredibly satisfying to mix my own creations with my favorite iconic tunes.  I’m sure that at 25 I wouldn’t have believed at the time that I’d still be doing this at 44, but here I am! And outlasting most of the kids on the dancefloor, too. You can hear my mixes and original tracks at  https://soundcloud. com/jenniferhaley How do you feel that your own experiences with music and making music have influenced your daughter’s musical experiences? (Same question for art, I love your daughter’s drawings).  My drive to be busily creating all kinds of different stuff all the time, whether it’s visual art or music, has definitely rubbed off or passed on to Sonja. Our dining room table is perpetually engulfed in projects and we are resigned to eating at the coffee table. When we get up in the morning, Sonja will have buzzed through the house like the Tasmanian Devil and completed 4 or 5 random pieces of art or craft by the time breakfast is ready.  If she’s not in school, then she’s painting, drawing, and making stuff right along beside me while I work. 

Do you feel compelled to edit certain things out of your daughter’s musical experience or to steer her away from or toward certain genres? Actually I’m pretty prudish about what music Sonja gets to take in. She occasionally hears us rehearsing for gigs, but her musical world has mostly consisted of Laurie Berkner, Farmer Jason, Harry Connick, Jr., and Pandora stations built around Louie Armstrong and jazz standards.  She does like “daddy’s chunky music,” and she gives me excellent critical feedback on my original tracks while I’m working on them. Apparently in recent months Greg and Sonja have begun soaking up the Fly 92 pop repertoire whenever they are in the car together without me and that they’re having a great time with it, but I don’t love the idea of that sort of lyrical content entering her lexicon at this age. Tell me about some of your more challenging portraits… My portraits seem to either leap from my brush fully completed in a couple of hours looking just as I had hoped, OR they take dozens of hours and an agonizing series of “ruin it, fix it, ruin it, fix it” moments until I get it as right as I can by brute force. In general, I find certain shades of blue fur and particularly amorphous shaped toys to be the trickiest, but those challenges are mostly exciting rather than daunting at this point. One curve-ball that was thrown my way this past year was a very interesting Fisher-Price Little People portrait composition featuring a little girl figure balancing on the toy house’s garage roof. My client looked at the finished piece and requested that I “zoom out” so we could see more of the house. I ended up scrapping it and re-painting the whole thing! http://customtoyportrait. com/toyportraits/out-on-the-roof/ People definitely see their beloved toys and pets in a particular way, and it’s perfectly understandable that they would like the portrait to reflect the its personality, history, and honored family status.   That being said, I’ve had to sweeten the faces of some pretty demonic looking baby dolls and coax smiles from stoic dogs who are known to be more cheerful than they are letting on. How did you get started painting Toy Portraits? My husband and I have been accumulating quirky little toys over our fifteen years together, and I’ve painted them now and then for fun. But when my daughter Sonja, now

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six, was born, I became determined to make a business of painting portraits of favorite toys so that I could work from home and be with her. I’m so grateful that Your Toy Portrait has been so warmly received and that so many people have shared their funny, moving toy stories with me! What does a typical weekend look like for your family?  We’re lucky enough to have both sets of Sonja’s grandparents with an hours drive, so most of our weekends are devoted to checking in and spending time with them and Sonja’s little cousins. She’s super fortunate to have them close by, especially as an only child. We also squeeze in Sonja’s soccer games and play-dates with our friends. How has your style changed, if at all, since becoming a mom? If it has stayed the same, what has endured? Do you have a “uniform” you turn to time after time?  Not only has my style stayed the same, but probably much of my pre-motherhood wardrobe is still in rotation. I’ve always been into very casual classic pieces that look appropriate rather than ruined by splotches of paint. My go-to uniform is generally a black sweater, jeans, boots, a topknot bun, and ALWAYS a scarf, indoors or out, unless it’s incredibly hot. If my neck is cold I can not deal.  If you spilled out the contents of your bag, what would be in there? Cherry Chapstick, a thousand post office receipts from shipped portraits, hand sanitizer, sunblock, wallet.

Do you have any favorite brands/local spots/styles you like for kids clothing/toys? Brands for yourself or shops you love? I love thrift stores and pride myself on my supernatural ability to consistently find some pretty remarkable gems. I happen to live one block from Noah’s Attic in Ballston Spa, and until Sonja is old enough to start objecting, most of her adorable outfits come from there.  When I want to indulge myself, I usually end up at New 2 You, a fine consignment shop in Ballston Spa. As far as toys are concerned, this is a serious Lego household. Sonja cares little for dolls and would rather anthropomorphize a handful of toothbrushes than play with actual action figures, in most cases. That said, we love to check out the cool selection of gift-y toys and great books at Northshire Bookstore whenever we visit M Greg at Uncommon Grounds a few doors down.


Start your own parent/kiddo book club with these coordinating picks from Jennifer Armstrong from Northshire Bookstore






1. Amazing Food Hacks: 75 Incredibly Easy Tips, Tricks, and Recipes to Amp Up Flavor Amazing Food Hacks is a board book for you! Easy shortcuts make getting food on the table faster and easier, and spilled food will wipe right off. 2. The Ship of Brides A novel by Jojo Moyes is a fun, well-written escape of Australian war brides on their way to England on a navy ship. 32 | MAMATOGA

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3. Yes Please Amy Poehler’s hysterical new memoir. She’s game for everything and always minds her manners. 4. The Secret History of Wonder Woman Iis just that - the fascinating story behind the creation of DC Comics’ iconic Amazon with the bullet-proof bangles. 5. Will It Waffle? 53 Irresistible And Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron For the ultimate in desperate weeknight cooking, throw it all in the waffle iron! You’ll be surprised.




5 1. Rah, Rah Radishes! A Vegetable Chant is a board book for them. Get the kids to cheer each other on in the produce aisle. 2. Ship of Dolls A middle grade novel about children in Portland participating in the 1926 Friendship Doll Exchange with children in Japan. 3. Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners A playful picture book look at why manners matter.


4 4. Super Heroes Storybook Collection Is a treasury of DC good guys, with a useful directory of bad guys, too. Prepare to be peppered with facts about Metallo, Darkseid and Lex Luthor. 5. Everything On A Waffle A Newbery Honor winner for middle grade readers. The local diner, Girl On a Swing, serves everything on a waffle. Funny and sweet.

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TJ Tracy is a local kid making a big difference in the lives of local families with the organization he founded himself, TJ’s Turkeys. Started 5 years ago by then 9-year-old TJ, he wanted to make a difference for those who weren’t fortunate enough to enjoy a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Now, at 14 years old, TJ has raised a total of more than $20,000 over the years, and is only looking to raise more with help from the community. TJ: When I was 9 my mom asked me what I wanted to do for Thanksgiving. There were a few options; we could go to grandma’s, we could have our own little Thanksgiving at our house, and another was to help out at the local food pantry. I was very young and didn’t know what a food pantry was. After my mom explained it to me, all I said was “we have to help!” That year, we raised $250 and bought several turkeys. TJ’s Turkeys has grown from there over the last five years. Every kid deserves a holiday dinner and a childhood with special memories and traditions. It is our mission to help make that happen.   One time I received a very special letter from one of the parents that we’ve been helping out for the past few years.  In the letter, she thanked me for everything I do, explaining how much I’ve helped her family and how much it meant to her. I recently had the opportunity to meet her and her daughter.  It meant so much to me to see them and to know that we’ve helped create a tradition in their family. Now their daughter is going to help TJ’s Turkeys so she can give back. This meant a lot to me because it really made me realize that I am truly making a difference in the community and bringing happiness to peoples lives. Many of my friends have helped me with TJ’s Turkeys. Sometimes I’ll be with a friend going door-to-door asking for donations and we see another friend and he wants to help out too. This year my little brother donated birthday gifts, a friend Jen and I go every week after school on Fridays, and even a Brownie troop wants to help out. My baseball team is going to help assemble food bags and my friends Jen and I bring all the bags out to people’s cars to help them when they come to pick up their dinners. When we shop for the food other families show up and we split up lists. My goal is to inspire other kids to do something that they feel is important to them so they’re active in the community and help out with something that they believe in. Although TJ’s Turkeys can be a handful, there are many rewards as well. Everything from connecting with the many people and businesses donating, to carrying out the food baskets full of holiday meals to the families is rewarding. Seeing the look on the children’s faces as they smile when they see me and thank me personally means the world to me.  This just started out as a small thing I did to help out a few families when I was a kid, and this year we will raise $10,000 for the second year in a row and truly make a difference in so many peoples’ lives.   Click here to find TJ’s Turkeys on facebook and see how you can help M out this holiday season.

Age Appropriate Picks for Above Grade Level Readers There is a type of parent who comes to the bookstore with a special mixture of pride and apprehension. Usually it is a mom, and the question begins, “My son/ daughter is a really strong reader – way above grade level. I can’t find anything long and complex enough that doesn’t also have too much…” The question trails off. We all know how that one ends. You may be one of these parents. Your son or daughter is more than capable of reading high school level books, but there’s no way you want to give free reign in the teen section. This problem is the opposite of the reluctant reader challenge, where we need to find easy and accessible books with a more mature or complicated subject matter. This is the avid reader, who needs books with sophisticated and challenging language but PG themes and situations. For this reader I usually reach for classics. Roughly speaking, books that were written fifty or more years ago are different

enough in their sentence structure and vocabulary to present a challenge – not an insurmountable challenge, but enough to slow the avid reader down. The pacing is usually different, and certainly the worldview is different. Imagine listening to an audiobook with the volume turned quite low: you really have to focus and concentrate to follow the story. That’s how it is when reading books from a much earlier generation. Your avid reader can eat through most contemporary juvenile fiction in a couple of days; what you need to offer is something that takes longer to chew, but that won’t bring a blush to a young cheek… So here are some of my favorite recommendations, each paired with a more recent counterpart that will make an excellent companion.

The Borrowers, (and sequels) by Mary Norton, first published in 1952. The Borrowers are tiny people who live inside the walls and “borrow” things from the full-sized humans. The characters are complex and intriguing, the language layered and chewy, and the situations full of both drama and charm. These books are perfect for a third or fourth grade reader who needs a challenge. Follow this with The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchet, a richly imagined Exodus story about a population of ‘nomes’ who have been living inside the walls of a British department store for generations, but who must find a new homeland when the store closes, because as the sign says, “EVERYTHING MUST GO.” Beautiful imagery and tremendous wit will captivate your advanced fourth or fifth grade reader. The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden, first published in 1960. A Connecticut cricket stows away in a picnic basket and ends up in a subway newsstand with a mouse, a cat, and a boy. It isn’t long before Chester Cricket’s musical talent makes him a sensation. Your third grade reader will need to take some time to navigate a New York City very different from today’s. Follow this with Masterpiece, by Elise Broach, another boy-meets-insect story. A talented beetle, the Met, and an art heist make for a suspenseful mystery with enough detailed information and vocabulary about fine art to keep your sophisticated third or fourth grade reader engaged – and running to the dictionary. 36 | MAMATOGA

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The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, first published in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Don’t let your kids tell you that since they’ve seen the movies they don’t need to read these books. Remember, we’re talking about language, not story. Your third or fourth grade reader will find the pacing of the books very different from contemporary fare, and will also end up with an expanded British-English vocabulary. When all seven books have been consumed and digested, offer the Wildwood Chronicles, by Colin Meloy. These three (big! heavy! long!) books are often referred to as the American Narnia: children battling evil in a fantasy realm of talking animals and wicked and powerful adults, in the Pacific Northwest. Interesting and stylish art adds dimension to these multi-layered books. These are just right for fourth and fifth grade super-charged readers. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, written in 1882. The original book is so entertaining, and so full of richly evocative language, that your avid reader will start speaking Pirate English at the dinner table and wearing an eye-patch. The characters from all ranks of British society are vividly drawn, but none so memorably as the one and only Long John Silver. Follow this one with Airborn and its sequels by Kenneth Oppel, a swashbuckling steampunk saga of airships, pirates and flying predators. Danger, adventure, and just the teensiest hint of romance make this choice absolute perfection for a fifth- or sixth-grader who doesn’t want to open the PG-13 door quite yet.

They’ll be worldly teenagers soon enough. Let them stay kids while still getting the reading challenge they crave. As always, please feel free to consult a bookseller for recommendations and expert advice on titles old and new – that’s what we’re there for! See you at the bookstore! Jennifer Armstrong used to be an above-grade-level reader, and grew up to be an award-winning children’s book author. Now you can find her in the children’s department of the Northshire Bookstore on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, where she loves introducing kids to their next favorite M book.

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ne of the first things I have taught my children is how to say “please” and “thank you”, and even Jack, at 2, will say “tank yoo” when you give him what he wants. Does that mean that he is grateful? Probably not…yet. Toddlers and young kids are self centered by nature, and thankfulness needs to obviously extend beyond just basic good manners. The default mode will always be “satisfy me”, and putting others first and being grateful is not natural. It has to be taught. Gratefulness also needs to be practiced to take hold, and it is a lifelong process to keep it going. Beyond making some cute Pinterest crafts to be “thankful” for one day, here are some tips to start to instill that behavior in your children, and to help them create an attitude of gratitude that will stay with them through adulthood.

Good manners and gratefulness overlap, so if you get them started young to recognize kindness and generosity, when they are older it will be easier for them to grasp. Saying “thank you” might just be a learned behavior for now, but when they are old enough they will be able to attach the meaning to the manners.

Model your grateful behavior. Set an example for the kids when they do something you appreciate. “I’m so happy you cleaned up your toys”, or “Thank you for being nice to your sister”. If you work these into your daily routine you’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll want to pick it up and start thanking you too.

Create a thankfulness routine. You can do it daily or weekly, maybe every night before they go to bed or at the dinner table one night a week. Simply ask them one thing they are thankful for that day or week, and have a little discussion about why they are grateful.


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When you are practicing your thankfulness routine, encourage children to look beyond “things”. Instead, ask your children to find gratitude in more than the material items they treasure. For example, you can share that you are thankful for the sunny day that is allowing them to play outside or how happy it makes you to have friends that are nice and caring. If they are thankful for their X-Box that day, have them take it a step further and appreciate that whomever gave it to them wanted them to have it so they could have fun and smile. This brings me to my next one…

Help kids understand that gifts are thoughtful gestures, not them hitting the jackpot. When they receive something, no matter how big or small, encourage them to focus on the thought behind the gift. We all know the old adage “It’s the thought that counts”, and it has stuck around so long because it’s true. Even if it’s a tiny drawing a friend did at school for them, point it out by saying something like, “That was so sweet for them to draw that for you, they must think you are a really good friend”. Adding meaning to the act of giving will create a deeper appreciation for them.

Avoid comparison. We always want to tell kids “Other children would be grateful for what you have”, but this really isn’t teaching them to be thankful, it’s more of a comparison, usually one that won’t have the impact you hope it will. Sometimes, it can make kids feel guilty, instead of grateful. Instead of drawing comparisons, try educating them about differences. Explain to them in an age appropriate way that there are people who do not have toys, and food, and clothes, without comparing the two.

Let kids help out. The more children contribute around the house, the more they realize how much effort it takes to keep a household running. Giving your child age-appropriate chores like setting the table or feeding a pet (or for teenagers, working a part-time job) will help them appreciate that these tasks require effort and don’t just happen automatically. They will also feel the satisfaction of earning what they have and making a valuable contribution to the family.

Make giving and volunteering a family habit that you participate in together and make sure the kids know what you are giving, where, and why. Have them help gather things to donate and tag along when you drop it off. Volunteer as a family to help serve dinner at the Saratoga Senior Center. Adopt a Family for the holidays at Franklin Community Center. Find out how they would like to give back. Maybe they’d like to help volunteer at an animal shelter, or with other kids. There are so many ideas on how to get kids involved, click here for some local ones this holiday season.

Hit the “rewind button”. Explain the steps that made it possible for your child to have certain simple things, like a glass of milk. A farmer had to raise the cow, get up early to milk it (going with the “simple” explanation here), then someone had to package the milk (another job), it had to be brought to the store, YOU had to go to the store to get it and pay for it, and then you poured it. It helps to get them thinking about what goes into everyday things and the importance of doing a part, rather than the milk just “appearing” before them. When they start to realize how much work and effort goes into things, they appreciate them more.

Get them excited about giving. Usually when it comes time to put together a holiday wish list for kids, the only person on their list is themselves. I remember as a child writing my letters to Santa, and every item was something I wanted for myself. But we all know that awesome feeling of giving someone else a really great gift that we know they will love. Kids will love this too. Have them come up with some ideas of what they would like to give, and get them excited about making someone else’s day brighter by sharing a gift. It will help them appreciate the thought and effort that goes into the gifts they receive M themselves.

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n the realm of gifts and toys, my kids are lucky kids. They have grandparents who love to spoil them, friends who will come to celebrate their birthdays bearing gifts, and parents who will once in a while pick up something they know they will love just because. They have a playroom in the basement where all this stuff is kept, and it is a continuous “weeding out” process that I perform.

When they are done with a toy or they “outgrow” something, I either put it aside for Jack and Tallis for when they old enough or I donate it. I try to keep the level of toys down to a minimum, and that seems to work best. If they have too many options all of those options usually wind up on the floor, scattered about, pretty much discarded. My oldest two are 8 and 6 now, old enough to know how to put toys away. My general rule is that if they can’t put it away when they are done with it they can’t play with it. In years past I have noticed that the process of ripping through the gifts at warp speed on Christmas morning became what is most desirable, and I would cringe at the gifts that get tossed aside in search of what’s next. Most of the time these gifts will eventually get picked back up and played with, but there is a giant flashing sign that went off in my mind saying “TOO MUCH”. Especially because after they get done at our house they get to travel around to the grandparents and add on even more gifts. Almost by accident, I decided on three gifts per kid this year. I say “by accident” because I walked past Levy’s “Wish List” in school the other day. It had three items on it, because that was the only space allowed. One, two and three, and that’s it. She wrote in “Sofia’s Castle, perfume,” and “a jump rope”. It 40 | MAMATOGA

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by Jenny Witte was so cute. And so simple. (Sofia’s Castle was already bought by a grandparent, and since I am committed to shopping local this year I supplemented a secondary list item that I bought locally). This was in contrast to her original list which she wrote for Santa at home one day. It included Barbies (she has a ton, both my old hand me down Barbies and ones she has gotten as gifts), My Little Ponies (ditto on these), makeup (you are five so no, still not sure where to buy five year old appropriate “perfume”), and like ten other items at least. Most of which she saw on television commercials while at her grandparents house (we don’t have cable, probably one of the best reasons to not have it is that they usually never see these commercials), most of which she has no real idea why she wants, most of which are just plastic junk, plain and simple. When I asked Levy what she wanted she replied with this toy I had never heard of. “Why do you want that?” I asked her. “Because I saw it on a commercial at grandma and grandpa’s house”. Okay then. So as I was thinking of the Rule of Three, I decided to google it, to see if anyone else has a similar idea. I found this story, and although my decision for doing 3 Gifts isn’t related to the Magi and is more about just getting past the commercialization and over spending, I like their ideas a lot too, especially about doing some homemade gifts. I had the kids sit down and write out their “Top 3 gifts, and to really take their time to settle on what they really, truly wanted. I let them think about it for a few days, to make sure they knew what they wanted and why they wanted it. I told them that by choosing their top three they were finding out what would be the best of the best, and that other gifts can be kept on the back burner for birthday presents, or another year of Christmas gifts. Rather than stressing about “leaving something off ” their wish list, this was actually easier for them, giving them the limit of three gifts closed off the door of this idea of dozens of presents under the tree.

The other thing I liked about it was that I wasn’t making the kids behave just to get presents. Being on good behavior and trying their hardest at school, treating each other with respect, these were things that I didn’t want them to do because they thought they would either get more or less gifts. I’ve been guilty of using Santa as a threat MANY times in the past, don’t get me wrong, but as the kids get older I want them to realize that being good to each other and treating each other well is something that they should do regardless of any “rewards” they may get. Being under the threat of no presents if they misbehave sort of sucked the meaning out of the season of giving. So we separated the idea of being “naughty or nice” for the holiday season, and reiterated that they are to be good no matter what, all year long, not just when the Elf is “watching”. What doesn’t fall under the Rule of Three? Books. My kids can receive as many books as they want, we’ll take ‘em all. Especially because their reading levels are always improving and we read together every night, they need new books. The “old” ones either stay in our little kids book library as all time favorites or get donated. I also throw in some clothes/winter gear that they need, and explain that although these aren’t “fun” things, they are lucky to be able to get the things they need to play.

picked up a little set of three wooden magnetic trains to add to his hand me down train set that used to belong to Finn. We’re going to wrap them each separately to maximize the unwrapping fun. There was an extra this year too though, which is a companion to their Rule of 3. I asked the kids to do their lists, then write another list of 3 items they though another child their age might like. It could be something they already have, or something they think is cool. They each came up with three items, which we bought together and wrapped together to donate. They are getting three gifts in, and giving three gifts out. It helps make their own three gifts mean more, to know that there are kids right here in our area that don’t get any gifts. How do I keep all of this under the grand “Santa” umbrella? It’s complicated, but we make it work, for now. I told the kids that Santa doesn’t give grown ups gifts, so it’s up to them to make something special for the grown ups in their lives. We are working on a few craft projects at home, instilling along the way that what means the most in giving is that you are thinking of the other person, that you want to see M them smile, and want them to know you love them.

It also should go without saying that I am eternally grateful for the gifts the kids receive from other people, outside of our little family. The Rule of 3 doesn’t extend outward to anyone else, although I have told my extended family about it. If they do it, great, if not, that’s also fine. The Rule of 3 has also been helpful for me too, as a way to be mindful of what I’m spending, mindful of what they actually need or will play with, and mindful of what I want to teach my kids about giving. There are a ton of cute things out there for kids, and while a handful of them will be under the tree this year, I’m glad I scaled back this year. I’ll put some extras in the stockings I’m sure, and my unlimited books idea will certainly pad the take this year, but I’m excited about the Rule of 3. It was super easy to do my shopping, way less expensive, easier to wrap, and hopefully overall will leave all of us satisfied because the kids will get “everything” on their list. Jack technically is only getting one “new” gift (not counting books and clothing) since he’s not yet two and has zippo idea of wanting anything. My mom

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If you’re my friend, you, too, are a foodie and fluent in all things “Barefoot.” Ina’s latest installment is fabulous and premieres just in time for the holidays. I’ll throw in a bottle of my favorite olive oil from Saratoga Olive Oil Company, too. Ina always says you need to cook with good olive oil. Northshire Bookstore Ina Garten Make It Ahead: $35.00 Saratoga Olive Oil Company 2014 Picual Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $16.95


This lil’ guy is a homerun. My daughter received her puppy last Christmas and it is still one of her favorites. Across a vast sea of today’s toy options, isn’t it great that this oldie’s still got it? G. Willikers Hape Walk-A-Long Puppy: $24.99

RACHEL’S LIST Mom of 2 year old Eliza


Once he goes shave brush, he won’t go back. This handsome combo gift makes a daily routine less of a nuisance and more like a luxury. Gents, you’re welcome. Fallon Wellness Pharmacy Caswell Massey Faux Shave Soap in a Bowl: $96.00


You’re familiar with Linus’ security blanket? Well, Tourance created an adult version. Throw: $150.00


I stumbled on this remote control chopper a few years ago and took a chance. I’m not sure who ended up playing with it more: my nephew or his dad. I recommend purchasing the replacement parts which include extra main blades, tail props and balance bar. It’s best to be safe than sorry because I guarantee this gift will get a lot of play Christmas morning. Helicopter: $16.99

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Instant syle .. the Ladies Utility Waxed Jacket, Yoicks $399 Never take them off Hermes Pop H lacquered earrings $400 Monogram it, Love it, Wear it. C Wonder Easy Nylon Tote $78

Co-Founder of The Saratoga Social, Realtor and Mom of three.

The Golf GPS watch like no other, for every golfer on your list. Approach S4, Garmin $299. Snuggle up with the housewives King, The Andy Cohen Diaries $12 Perfect for a Victorian Streetwalk Nip or two Smathers & Branson needle point flask $65

House Shoes by Chilote House

Awesome for keeping feet comfy around the house, these Patagonian wool and up-cycled leather house shoes by Chilote House are also a must have for hospital bags. $72,


Amber Mom and owner of The Bundle Store, Ballston Spa

 Perfume by Pour Le Monde​

Natural scents don’t just come in patchouli! Trade in those toxins for a natural perfume that smells fantastic by Pour Le Monde. You can order samples for about $22 before picking a full size bottle. $95,

Good Eggs

Perfect for the play kitchen, kids can decorate these solid wood eggs with wax crayons, water colors, dyes or leave plain. $8.99, The Bundle Store.

 Reinvent your mom purse.

Who says you can’t be fashionably rugged toting around those diapers? You might even find a burly man to take this bag off your hands. $119.99,

Knitted Play Food

Toast, bacon, egg, and strawberry wool knitted play food by Camden Rose. A great addition to any play kitchen for countless hours of imaginary culinary fun. Fair trade product of Peru. $17.99, The Bundle Store,

Primrose English Cottage by Lille Huset

Modular doll house that you can take apart and store flat when not in use. Includes adorable accessories to decorate your house and fun ideas for crafting more!  $40, The Bundle Store,

Owl in Striped Dress & Bonnet

Made of organic cotton fleece and stuffed with washable fiberfill. The perfect size for little hands to tote around. Check out Owen’s friends. $36, The Bundle Store, 

mimiTENS mittens

One of the best children’s products to come down from Canada. Layered with 3M’s Thinsulate and a bamboorayon fleece, these mittens stay on and keep snow out! $28-$32, The Bundle Store.


Constellation Ring from Moon and Lola $85 at Silverwood I love this cool, graphic take on the Zodiac sign. It’s also a unique way to give something personal but with a little less prep than the traditional monogram. Mercury Glass Initial Cloche Candles $19.50 By Mud Pie at Silverwood I know what I’m giving my hosts during this busy social season! Monograms and initials make a great gift personal without being too style specific, so these are the perfect hostess gift with a great price point. Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests (new edition) by Tom Shale and Yes Please by Amy Poehler $30.00 at Northshire I love SNL, so I’m am super excited to read/ give these two new books to my funniest friends and family this year.

Mom of two and owner of Silverwood Home & Gallery

Women’s Sperry-Topsider for J.Crew Shearwater Buckle Boots $160 at Again, the importance of warm tootsies in the winter! These are so darn cute and I love LOVE the shearling lining! Smartwool Socks $14-$20 at Mountain Man Outdoor Supply Every Christmas I ask for new wool socks. There is just nothing better on a frigid upstate New York day… In fact, I believe in this so much, I generally buy a pair for everyone else in the family as well (because, you know, SOCKS- one of the most exciting gifts you can get!). Street and Snow Scooter by Railz $89.00 at I’m putting a moratorium on toy trucks and wooden train tracks entering our household. Instead, this year I’m giving my four- yearold books and something to help him burn off some of his unrelenting energy, like this scooter that goes from pavement to snow.


Family Choice Awards The polls are now open for you to vote on your local family favorites. Everything from Best Kids Event to Best Date Night Spot, click the pink button below to cast your votes today!






classics A love for the

Gingham Shirt by Brooks Brothers

Tartan Dress by Rachel Riley

Patent Leather Mary Janes by J.Crew

Wool Black Watch Suit Trousers by Brooks Brothers

Custom Driving Mocs by Bella Bliss

Wool Dress Coat by Bella Bliss

Hair Bow by Bella Bliss

Melton Hooded Toggle Coat by Brooks Brothers

pregnancy to schoolkid


56 pregnancy Preggo germ phobia

57 baby

Over bundling?

58 toddler anti-coat tirades

59 schoolkid protecting winter skin

pregnancy I’m afraid of getting sick in the winter while I’m pregnant, how can I protect myself? Getting sick while you’re pregnant can be even more of a pain, pun intended, because it can be tough to know which medications to take, or if you can even take any. An easy, medication free way to protect yourself ? Wash your hands. The best way to not catch something is to keep your hands clean and to avoid touching your nose and mouth. You also want to avoid being in close quarters with someone who’s been coughing and sneezing.


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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends pregnant women get the influenza vaccine to help prevent the flu. Your doctor might also suggest you get a booster to the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, depending on when you’ve had the immunization in the past. So it’s worth it to ask your doctor and decide whether you should get the shots.

baby How much should I bundle my baby in the colder weather? Pediatricians recommend that an infant between birth and one year only require one light layer of clothing more than what you would wear. If you would be uncomfortable wearing the outfit your baby is in, chances are your baby is hot as well and needs to be undressed. A good rule of thumb to follow when you are indoors is to keep their head and feet covered and perhaps dress them in a one-piece suit, gown, or long sleeved onesie. Be forewarned that feeling your baby’s hands or feet is not a good way to gauge their body temperature, as their circulatory system is immature. Instead, feel their belly, back, or underarm area. On a similar note, never place infants in their car seats wearing thick clothing, jackets, or blankets. In order to ensure that the straps are tight enough to avoid injury, an infant should be buckled in their regular clothes, and if it is especially cold, then a blanket can be used over the harness. If you are ever unsure about whether your baby has a fever or is just dressed too warmly, undress them for a few minutes, and then take their temperature.


My two year old refuses to wear a coat, ever. What gives? It’s freezing out, you are getting ready to go to Target, and your toddler flat out refuses to put on a coat. The issue might not just be typical toddler rebellion but instead may be a developing control over sensory processing. Kids would prefer to be the way they came into the world, naked. As they adapt to the extra layers of clothing, any extra layers, especially big bulky coats, can add to their heightened feelings of constriction. Kids also don’t notice they’re cold because they are too busy running around to have fun. 58 | MAMATOGA

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When it comes to forcing a toddler to wear a coat, they really don’t need it as much as we think they do. Don’t buy into the old wives’ tale that being cold can give you a cold, since a winter virus is not caused by going out in the cold air, and instead is caused by viral transmission. In other words, colds are caught by coming into physical contact with someone who already has a cold virus. Of course, this advice does not apply in extreme temperatures. This is when you must step in and take charge to make sure they are protected from frigid temps and things like frostbite.

schoolkid Do kids need sunscreen in the winter? Just because the temps may be frigid and the sun isn’t beating down doesn’t mean damaging rays aren’t getting through. Many parents have misconceptions about the necessity of protecting kids skin during the winter months. Reflection of radiation from snow requires aggressive sunscreen protection – maybe even more than summertime when kids participate in snow activities like skiing and snowboarding. Almost 80 percent of UV radiation is reflected from snow, while only 25 percent from sand. First, find a formula that is PABA (paraaminobenzoic acid)-free, and using a stick style sunscreen might be best as it won’t run into their eyes and will be the easiest to apply. Encourage your kids to develop a sunscreen habit early, people are most prone to skin damage from birth to 30 years old, so it is crucial to get in the habit as soon as they can.

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The Peak of Winter




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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR In the three plus years we’ve been covering the Saratoga social scene, we have been to hundreds of events and have loved every minute. We’ve witness millions of dollars raised for our community, by individuals and non-profit groups whose passion and commitment to Saratoga inspire us daily. Our rich downtown is full of small businesses who represent entrepreneurship at its best. Celebrating our exceptional community is what The Saratoga Social is all about. With this premiere issue of The Saratoga Social Magazine we’ve taken the spirit of and have brought you even more about the people, events and celebrations that make up this dynamic city. This fall we walked into a little shop on Beekman Street called ‘Yoicks’ and couldn’t get enough of owner Michael Finney’s beautiful boutique and his fascinating family history in Saratoga. Inside you’ll find some of his most colorful stories of summering in the Spa City.








Jenny Witte & Robin Dalton Founders

Jake Van Ness

Creative Director 64 | THE SARATOGA SOCIAL

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The holiday party frenzy is just around the corner so you’ll find our guide to navigating all of the season’s get togethers, complete with hostess gifts and outfit options. Then with December 31st sneaking up on us, check out some best and worst New Year’s Eve stories before you plan your big night. We have exclusive party pictures from The Saratoga Social’s Summer and Fall Galleries and so much more. We hope you enjoy this issue, and Happy Holidays!

Robin & Jenny











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With his grandfather at the sales grounds for the dedication of the pavilion named in his honor. Here can be seen not only the ultimate source of his sartorial inspiration (him), but his own early interpretive style (shirt withstanding).


Michael Finney



few weeks ago we had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Michael Finney, owner and operator of Yoicks! on Beekman Street, his absolutely lovely attempt to create a store “to find or produce the art, clothes and accessories that demonstrate real quality and a dedication to some of the traditional styles I grew up with and love”. It is thoughtfully filled with Barbours and custom Shetland sweaters, framed prints and photos telling stories of Saratoga Springs in the days where all the men wore boaters and bow ties. Even before Michael’s first arrival in Saratoga his family already had a long and quite interesting history here. We asked him to tell us all about it, and what 66 | THE SARATOGA SOCIAL

Holiday 2014

follows is just a few snippets from a conversation had over beer and Welsh Rarebit at the Local. We really wish we could publish everything he told us, and urge you to visit the shop yourself, find a treasure of your own, and hear a story or two. ON EARLY SARATOGA MEMORIES MICHAEL: If you look carefully at the photo taken with my grandfather in 1968, you might notice that my collar looks a bit fussy for a normal five year-old boy… well, It

was my sister’s shirt and my mother forced me to wear it. It was the only shirt in the house that fit and was clean and she was truly adamant. I, in turn, was furious and profoundly embarrassed. I also remember being put to sleep in the old banquettes in the front dining room at Siro’s on sales nights and eventually being carried home at closing. Halcyon days, those. ON DRAKE (THE TEDDY BEAR) MICHAEL: I found Drake on a particularly dreary afternoon while attending Skidmore. Determined to avoid a return bout with ‘Latin American Studies 210’, I opted out to Sperry’s for a steak sandwich and a quiet “restorative”. That led to a wonderfully serendipitous bout of shopping which yielded my favorite “bear of very much brain” from the since-departed Mabou on Broadway. Being English and a long way from home, he seemed in need of a local connection. He has been a constant and trusted companion ever since. ON FASIG TIPTON

Promotional photo for a Greenwich, CT Rolls Royce dealer

taken in 1987 while playing for Peter Brant’s White Birch team. Playing polo for the Skidmore College in 1984. We made it National Intercollegiate semi-finals that year.


MICHAEL: My grandfather, Humphrey, was the Chairman. My father, John, succeeded him in that role. As a result, I was a regular August sales visitor from the age of 15 days until I was about 30. Since then I have made it with fair regularity, but have missed the odd season here and there. My first job for F-T was running sales ‘slips’ from the pavilion to the cashiers office after the buyer signed the acknowledgment of purchase ticket. The original went to the office, the yellow copy stayed with the buyer and the pink copy went upstairs to the press box. There were any number of friendly people in between with a more than polite interest in my work. I was about 12 at the time. Given the high stakes involved, the urgent nature of the task and all of the attention from my new ‘friends”, I felt immensely important. Being sure that I was vital element to the proceedings, I tried to dress accordingly. Look where that enthusiasm has taken me. ON BLACK TIE MICHAEL: Black tie evenings have always been a part of the Saratoga Summer season. Being a lifetime veteran himself, my father had ultimately condensed his formal party engagements to what he deemed to be the essential | 67


Holiday 2014

pair: Mrs. Whitney’s annual Gala and the Museum of Racing Ball. At the same time he and virtually all of the Fasig-Tipton sales staff wore Tuxedos on each of the sales nights. They still do today. It is a vestige of an earlier era, when no Casino worth entering would let you in without one and some people still dressed for “the evening”. Since many of the sales attendees were either coming and going from formal dinners or heading towards the tables afterward, it made sense to dress to suit the crowd you served.

SARATOGA SPRINGS STYLE MICHAEL: From the outset with “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne and later with the likes of E. Barry Wall, the notorious “King of the Dudes”, Saratoga has had a sartorial renown. It would be interesting to know just how many of the clothes worn here during the season were acquired with just that in mind. Saratoga style is, to me, influenced by and just as varied as the history of the town itself: a | 69

THE SARATOGA SOCIAL YOICKS! PICKS wonderful and occasionally rakish mix of the sporting, the literary, and Hudson Valley - meets - Adirondacks earthy. Whatever you are up to in Saratoga, there is and has always been a sense of “see and/or be seen”, and the dress alters accordingly. My hope is that people continue to value those traditions and maintain the style connection to the past. The world has become an increasingly casual place in this century and as such I think any number of people miss out on the connection I just referred to, without even realizing it. For anyone who might want to try the traditional approach, we stand ready and willing at Yoicks! to assist. ON HORSES & POLO MICHAEL: There are few things that can be done with a horse that can’t be done in Saratoga. My exposure to the renewal of polo here in the late seventies led me to play here in college and subsequently to carry that interest to Argentina with Hector and Susie Barrantes. They in turn led me back here to play for Peter Brant’s White Birch team in the mid 80’s. Also while at Skidmore, I learned the beginnings of what little I know about jumping horses from John Blair. That eventually led me into professional hunt service, and even on to an ill-advised foray into amateur races at age 40. Being raised under the bright lights of the sales ring here led me to join my father in creating Finney Bloodstock after he left Fasig-Tipton. The first graded stakes winner I ever purchased as a bloodstock agent was here in August of 1989. She was a filly by Danzig, another famous Saratoga graduate in 1978. Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin, who we bought to pin-hook as agent when he was weanling, sold here as a yearling in 1991. Really, now that 70 | THE SARATOGA SOCIAL

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you’ve asked me to consider it, it’s remarkable how many of the early influences I encountered in this town have had a considerable effect on the course of my life. They seem to have continually led me back here, all the way unto the present. Maybe it isn’t that surprising, I’ve always loved it here and couldn’t be more pleased to be back.



“CLASSIC ELEGANCE” in the foothills of the Adirondacks a few miles north of Saratoga Springs 745 Saratoga Road, Wilton, NY 518.584.7640




YOICKS! Store Display

Ringing In the New Year Hits & Misses Photos by Megan Mumford Photography


fter the flurry of holiday parties in December, the question on everyone’s lips is “What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?”. We’ve had just as many major New Year’s fails as we have had fabulous ones so in our attempt to get it right this year, we sat down with this gorgeous group to talk all things NYE. Mara’s Best NYE: Mara’s night put all others to shame. Cocktails in a renovated Palazzo in Florence, Italy followed by a 6 course dinner with 14 of her most fabulous friends. At midnight, champagne and dancing at the Excelsior Hotel. Sign us up! Chelsea’s Do Over: She headed out to Aspen for the holidays and got all dressed up for a fabulous party.. which turned out to be ski bums and kegs. Even Aspen can let you down once in a blue moon. Jenn’s Best NYE: Celebrating one of her favorite traditions, cooking an over the top lobster dinner at home with her best friends.

Leah’s Best NYE: Leah and her family volunteered at First Night downtown. They greeted revelers, listened to a gospel choir and loved starting the year doing something meaningful. Kate’s Perfect NYE: Getting dressed to the nine’s and going to a grand hotel. An orchestra plays in the background while she dines and rings in the new year in classic style. Think Clark Gable and old fashion glamour. Val’s Perfect NYE: Cocktails on the beach, celebrating the night with the sand beneath your feet and friends around a bonfire. Fireworks at midnight go off overhead. Robin’s Do Over: Robin regretfully did the midnight run in Central Park. The very sober wait until midnight was interminable and she questioned her sanity while sweating it out on a hilly, cold 4 mile run.

Delicious NYE bubbly from Saratoga Wine & Spirits owner Melissa Brumley.

Champange Pricing: Berlo is $12.99 Cremant is $22.99

Rose is $25.99 Tattinger is $29.99

Universally agreed to do-overs: The $200 all you can drink and eat club special=plastic cups and maybe a cheese cube or two. Seeing the ball drop. Rough on a non-holiday, Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve means huddling with the drunk tourist next to you for warmth while wondering why you ever thought this was a good idea.

Saratoga Hangoverx You’ve partied like it’s 2015 and now you’re wondering if you’ll make it through the first day of the year in one piece. Fear not, we’ve surveyed some seasoned locals and here are their recommendations for the best foods to feed a hangover.


Holiday 2014

Jenny W.

Caroline B.

Sue H-C.

Tumeric Elixir of Life from Healthy Living... seriously!

Mike’s Hard Lemonade and a Hot Dog from Saratoga Race Course

Battenkill Creamery Chocolate Milk

Coffee with Baileys or amaretto and bacon, of course. Bacon makes everything better. Katie I.

Any brunch item from The Merry Monk Christine M.

Eggs and Hash from the Country Corner Café James WN.

Sarge’s Egg’s Benedict Barb C.

Gaffney’s Brunch and a milkshake Derek L.

Sausage Slider from 5 Points Emily D.

Breakfast Pizza from Max London’s Janelle B.

Smoked Chicken Bacon Hash with an extra poached egg and Grapefruit Mimosa Ashley F. The Eye Opener from The Local Michael F. The Saratoga Sandwich from Sweet Mimi’s Chelsea S. A big omelet with home fries & toast from the Triangle Diner Tara K.

Pulled Pork Mac n’ Cheese from Comfort Kitchen or Shirley’s Early Bird Breakfast, both with a side of Alleve Tom T. Comptons corned beef hash with over easy eggs, coffee, and of course a little hair of the dog Michael G

Nature’s Cure: Comptons followed by Spring Street Deli Maggie D. Croissant with cheddar and 1 egg (not 2) from 5 Points Jenn H. Crepes from Ravenous! Jennifer D.

Taime L.

Robin D.

Kate D.

Pickle juice the night of and pickles the next day. Proven cure.

Quesadillas, Diet Coke and a margarita from Cantina

Bacon, Egg and Cheese from Spring Street Deli


Holiday 2014

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Holiday 2014




Last year’s Christmas gift, just worn to ugly sweater party


Paige High Waisted Skinny


Lilly Pulitzer




Some of that scotch you brought

Planning your table to the Flower & Fruit Winter Ball

Trying to talk about anything but work

Your very presence

Smathers & Branson Coasters

You pre-gamed at Max’s

Clase Azule Tequila

The parking structure

Who’s wearing what to Hattie’s Mardi Gras


Rag & Bone

Lotus Initial necklace from Silverwood


Whatever isn’t at the dry cleaner

Macaroons from TC Bakery

That neighbor down Hot Cider with Rum the block... you know the one


C Wonder Cape with might freeze, but you’ll look cute

Pick up some Peppermint Pigs

Two stops: Yoicks on Beekman for flask, Kane’s Fine Wine & Spirits to fill it

Who’s doing what for New Year’s

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