my {july 4th} weekend in photos

I hope you all had a relaxing long weekend and a happy Fourth of July. We roasted marshmallows, played a little mini golf, lit some sparklers and ended the weekend with a sky lantern. Summer is just rolling right along…xoxo

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American Girl Night at SPAC Ticket Giveaway ***CLOSED***

ticketgiveaway“American Girl® Night” is one of the most popular events of SPAC’s classical season, and will be hosted by SPAC and American Girl Place on Wednesday, July 9th, on SPAC’s lawn beginning at 6pm.  The event, which takes place before New York City Ballet’s performance at 8pm, will feature arts & crafts, an instrument petting zoo, interactive dance demos, a tea party with lemonade and nut-free cookies and pop-up shops by G. Willikers. The event will feature American Girl’s “Girl of the Year” Isabelle (including a giveaway of 10 dolls), an inspired dancer studying ballet at a performing arts school in Washington, D.C. with a flair for design.

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SPAC’s pre-shows began in 2007 as an initiative to engage new and younger audiences to the performing arts. American Girl® Night has consistently been one of the most popular pre-show events, innovatively exposing children to classical performances- often for the first time. SPAC is currently the only performing arts venue with a partnership with American Girl®, collaborating to encourage the successes of young girls through enriching experiences.

This night is always a special night for kids and is one of our family’s favorite performances of the summer. We bring a blanket and some chairs to spread out on the lawn, explore all the cool activities they have to offer for the evening and enjoy a classical ballet performance by the New York City Ballet right here in Saratoga Springs, it’s incredible!

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General lawn admission to attend “American Girl® Night” and the New York City Ballet performance on July 9 for children 12 and under will be $10, with proceeds going to benefit SPAC’s children’s education program, the Vivienne Anderson program. The initiative hosts underprivileged and underserved children each season at performances of New York City Ballet. Click here for tickets and more info.

Here on Mamatoga I am giving away two sets of lawn tickets courtesy of SPAC (1 adult; 1 child ticket per set) which will be available to be picked up at the SPAC Box Office on the day of the performance. TWO winners will be chosen to each receive one adult and one child ticket.

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To enter simply comment below, you can enter more than once, and the two winners will be chosen at random and notified via email by me on Tuesday, July 8th at 10am. Thanks to everyone for entering and big thanks to SPAC for providing the tickets!

***This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been notified via email. Thank you to everyone who entered!***

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Summer Bites: Avocado Soup and Coconut Snowballs from Healthy Living Market and Cafe

summerbitesI’m a recipe girl, I need suggestions and instructions to come up with something interesting and to get out of a rut, and these two recipes from Shannon Beckwith, the Learning Center Coordinator at Healthy Living Market and Cafe in Saratoga Springs are perfect for hot and muggy summer days.

Chilled Spicy Avocado and Cucumber Soup

Two 12-ounce cucumbers—peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Hass avocados, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped or to taste (can easily leave out or adjust for little ones)
1- 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and Pepper- to taste
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
10 cilantro sprigs, for garnish

In a food processor, puree the cucumbers until smooth. Add the avocados, curry paste, lime zest and chile. Process until blended. Add 3 1/2 cups of water, the coconut milk and lime juice and process until smooth. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, toast the coconut over low heat, stirring a few times, until lightly browned and crisp, 3 minutes. Let cool. Ladle the soup into small bowls or cups, garnish with the toasted coconut flakes and cilantro sprigs and serve.

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Coconut Snowballs

Makes 12 balls

1 3/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Place 1 cup of shredded coconut in a food processor along with the coconut oil. Process on high speed, scraping down the sides periodically, until it reaches a paste-like consistency. (It does not have to be completely smooth like butter; some coconut texture is good.)

Add the maple syrup, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and process until well combined. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut and pulse until just combined.

Shape the mixture into 12 (1-inch) balls and coat with the remaining shredded coconut. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before eating.

Shannon also gave us a great recipe for kids that can carry through perfectly to fit into school lunches come fall as well, click here for the “frushi” recipe and my piece on the 5 or Less Lunchbox Project in the Summer Issue of Mamatoga Magazine.

Looking to pick up some new skills in the kitchen this summer? Click here for the Learning Center schedule, they have some really great classes lined up for preschoolers on up to grown ups, stuff for the whole family and also some great “Ladies Night Out” classes too. Stay tuned for some more summer recipes from Shannon, and you can pick up all the ingredients for both recipes right at Healthy Living Market and Cafe! xoxo

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my weekend in photos

What a gorgeous weekend it was, absolutely perfect weather. We went strawberry picking for the first time with the kids and it was such a fun experience. Hand Melon Farm had a ton of strawberries, and we took our time finding just the right ones. It’s such an easy process, you just get a few baskets from the stand, wander around the rows of strawberries and poke through the leaves to find the red, juicy ones. The strawberries were so ripe a faint scent of them permeated the still air, and we went early enough that it wasn’t too hot so we could really take our time. It’s prime picking season now so if you want to pick your own you’d better get out there before they are all gone, click here for a local pick your own guide, and Hand Melon Farm will be open for pick your own strawberries through July 4th weekend.

Afterward we drove up to Lake George for a chance to sit on the beach and relax, with a stop on the way home for an early dinner at Sushi Yoshi in Lake George, did you know kids eat free at the hibachi tables there on Sunday? It’s perfect! Jack was absolutely mesmerized by the show our hibachi chef put on, but we waited till we got home for our dessert: strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream and our freshly picked berries. xoxo

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Mamatoga Review: Jamberry Nail Wraps

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When it comes to DIY beauty stuff, I’d say my skill level is probably like a 5, maybe a 6 on a good day. I’m not hopeless, but I’m no expert either, and I would most likely describe my beauty routine as “adequate”. Paired with my current lack of a ton of extra time I’m also always on the lookout for something that will save time, last long, and is inexpensive. Enter Jamberry nail wraps.

I was skeptical at first, as I am about pretty much any DIY beauty thing, but the Jamberry designs were so cute I had to give them a shot. The wraps are made of vinyl and adhere to the surface of your natural nails (fingers and toes), and come in a sheet with a bunch of different sizes so you can fit the wraps to your specific size (which is easy to do). You peel the wrap off, blast it with a hair dryer for a few seconds to make it more flexible and carefully put it on. I was worried about there being bubbles or ridges or it not going on easily but it was super simple to do and perfectly smooth. You then trim the top off with nail scissors for a perfect fit, and you’re done! It really is THAT easy, and if I can do it, anyone can do it.

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Now for how long they last. Mine are going on three weeks on my toes now (I didn’t use any on my fingers yet). At this rate I will have to change my nail polish before I take the wraps off. I chose to do a wrap on my big toes and just paint a matching color on my other toes, and honestly painting the other toes was more of a pain than putting the wraps on, and the wraps have lasted beautifully. Zero chips, bumps, tears, nothing. They still look like day one. The wraps, if applied correctly, can last up to two weeks on fingers and for up to six weeks on toes.

To remove them, you simply soak them in nail polish remover for 20-30 seconds and then gently rub them off. I still have mine on but I removed Levy’s on her fingers with no problems at all.

At $15 a sheet, these are WAY more affordable than a pedicure, and I still have a ton of wraps to use on more manicures or pedicures too. They come in over 300 designs, with seriously all kinds of great looks with everything from simple chevron stripes like the ones I tried to more elaborate designs like holiday themed ones, floral patterns, Aztec, gold flecked, everything. I love the simple striped ones too, a nice navy stripe paired with a bold polish would look so chic for summer. The wraps look just like your polish, too, so they look like a perfect pedicure. You can go all out and do all your nails, just a few, or do it like I did with just one for a little bit of fun and a pop of design.

They even have designs for kids, and Levy’s strawberry manicure was seriously the cutest thing ever. The “Jamberry Juniors” come with two designs to mix and match and you can get 4-6 applications from one sheet. If you want to make a little nail party of it they have matching Mommy and Me sets too, which are just too adorable and the price is unbeatable compared to a trip to a salon. These would be perfect for a sleepover party too, so cute.

jamberryThere are local Jamberry consultants who you can order your wraps from, mine came from Lisa (find her page here on facebook) who supplied me with a sheet of wraps to write a review. I have to say, I am hooked. I have gotten so many compliments on my pedicure, more than any salon pedicure I’ve ever gotten, and it has lasted WAY longer than a salon pedicure as well. Consider it added to my (simple) beauty routine. My only problem now is which design to try next?

 

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Local Pick Your Own Strawberry Guide

pickyourownIt’s strawberry picking season! There are a bunch of local spots perfect for picking, here is a listing of some of the close by places for pick your own. Be sure to call ahead to make sure they are still picking that day as sometimes they run out of crops. Some of these spots strawberriesalso have blueberry picking as well!

Bowman Orchards
157 Sugar Hill Rd, Rexford.
(518) 371-2042
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun 12-5pm

 

Hand Melon Farm
533 Wilbur Avenue, Greenwich
(518) 692-2376
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat-Sun: 9am-5pm

 

Ariel’s Farm
194 Northern Pines Rd, Gansevoort
(518) 584-2189

 

Winney’s Farm
113 Winney Rd Schuylerville
(518) 695-5547

 

Altamont Orchards
6654 Dunnsville Rd, Altamont
(518) 861-6515

Whatever recipe you decide to make with all of your freshly picked strawberries, I urge you to make at least one with some homemade whipped cream. There are few summer desserts better than a slice of angel food or pound cake, a dollop of homemade whipped cream and some fresh strawberries…xoxo

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Top Ten Summer {Pinterest} Style Activities for Kids

summerpinSummer vacation is here (despite this rain today), and that means hours upon hours of time to run around, get dirty, catch bugs, be barefoot in the grass, and generally just hang out. This can also mean the dreaded boredom might strike, but have no fear! Here is a little sampling of some of the fun (and EASY) activities you can find on Pinterest to keep kids of all ages occupied and entertained.

I love the idea of unplugging for the summer, putting down the phone and iPad, turning off the TV and the video games and taking a break from technology. Get creative, have some downtime, read, make some old school summer crafts, and try out some of these really cute and fun activities.

Pictured above is one of the best printables I found for the summer on Pinterest from Thirty Handmade Days. It’s an easy to make punch card using the idea that for every activity your child does (which can be discussed and decided as a family), they get a punch.  When they punch all the dots, they get a reward. (You could also do it so that he or she will earn a prize when a category is punched). You don’t have to use a hole punch either, you could just use a pen and have your kids mark off each thing as they do it OR you could even go one step further and laminate the “punch card” and use a dry erase marker instead so it can be used over and over again. She has two versions, one with categories already filled in and one that has those spaces blank so you can make up your own categories and even change them up week to week depending on what you have going on that week.

summerstuff1Two words for you: Homemade Gak {Lil Luna}

Hot outside? How about some ice painting to go with those ice pops? {C.R.A.F.T.}

This is one of my favorites, a summer book wagon. Perfect to keep kids reading over the summer! Have them bring it to the sprinkler park or a playdate too! {inner child fun}

summerstuff2Cut up those pool noodles and make this awesome marble water slide, or these super cute boats toddlers will love {mama.papa.bubba. and frogs, snails and puppy dog tails}

Skip the food coloring and sugary syrups and make these awesome fresh fruit “sno cones” {epicurious} (here are even more delicious Pinterest summer recipes)

summerstuff3These crepe paper jellyfish are just too pretty for words, pair this craft with a book about ocean creatures before going to the beach to get kids engaged… {carolyns homework}

A nice downtime activity, Lego matchbox beds for those minifigs that are all over your house {kids activities blog}

Bubbles never get old for little kids, especially ones that bounce {play at home mom}

Ice boats! Add a little color and have a little ice boat regatta! {learning 4 kids}

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{Mamatoga Review} Adventure Trek: Quest of the Guardians at Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park

6flags2Last week we were lucky enough to be invited as guests at the unveiling of the brand new journey at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park, a new interactive gaming experience called Adventure Trek: Quest of the Guardians.

Taking place inside the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, Adventure Trek covers three floors of the hotel, and kids (adults too!) are armed with magical wands that connect with the special gaming consoles which are dotted along the corridors and in designated rooms that you have to search out in order to complete your mission.

6flags36flags4The game features three compelling virtual adventures with custom-designed content and themes reflecting real-world family attractions at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Theme Park, as well as significant historical sites in the Adirondack/Lake George regions. Virtual adventure guides take guests on adventures that allow them to explore a fantastic realm where imagination and history come alive. Guests assume roles as helpful heroes, who are needed to learn strategies, follow clues, solve puzzles, and overcome obstacles to save the day. Kids set out on thrilling adventures and captivating missions to save the Six Flags Great Escape Resort from the evil humdrums and sludge monster threatening to drive away the fun.  Every child becomes a hero in this all-encompassing resort experience.

You start out by registering your wand with your name and info, which will then save all of your gaming experience for each visit, and you head over to one of the main kiosks to choose which adventure you want to try that time (the wands were Finn’s favorite part). One of the fun parts is that everyone in the family can choose a different adventure and still play together at the same time, which is what we did. You then set out in search of collecting the items you need to complete the tasks by following clues, and everything is interactive. You point your wand at the gems on the wall and they light up and tell you if you are successful in finding what you’re looking for, the wand opens up the treasure chests, starts the games going on the screens, and much more. The kids absolutely loved the interactivity of the wands, running up to every single one they could find and seeing if it was a match for their particular adventure. Levy loved that “you got to go on missions to stop the Humdrums, and that you can throw boomerangs to get them off of the roller coaster” and collecting the different “gems” that you found ensconced on the walls.

6flags16flags6 6flags5This is also what is appealing about the game, that it keeps kids moving and on their feet rather than sitting in one spot, and you can play it any time during your stay at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge. We played for a while, took a break to eat, and the kids wanted to get right back into it. They were running up and down the stairs in between floors searching for the items to complete their adventures and got just as much exercise as they did at the water park. They loved the idea that the fun was literally right outside our door in the Lodge, and they could pick up a few points or clues even while just walking down to breakfast. It really upped the fun quotient you usually get staying there by making even the hotel experience something fun that they wanted to take part in. To be honest, it also served as an easy way to smooth the transition from the amusement park or the indoor water park back to the hotel, because just walking through the hallways was a game now.

Of course, the fact that the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge is so close but far enough (and filled with enough to do) that it makes it feel like a real vacation day is ideal for us (plus theme park and water park tickets are included with all suites for June, July & August when booked before July 6th, click here for more info). Especially with little kids, spending a ton of time in the car really eats into the time you get to relax, and an overnight stay is sometimes just enough of a break. You can get up first thing when the park opens, get over there before the crowds (and just walk from the hotel), then unwind at the indoor water park after those little feet get too tired. The whole place caters to families, and between Adventure Trek, Six Flags Great Escape and the indoor water park inside the lodge we had three extremely tired out and happy kids at the end of the day. We can’t wait to go back and try out the other adventures that are part of Adventure Trek and complete all of the missions, for more information click right here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DB2jQNdXA0

Disclaimer: *I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*
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Mamatoga Magazine Summer Issue 2014

MamatogaCoverSummerThe Summer Issue is here just in time for the last day of school and the unofficial start to summer in the Saratoga Springs area! I worked with a bunch of my favorite local businesses and friends to put this issue together, highlighting some of the places that make our area special, like Go2Snax, Myers Dance Center & Northeast Ballet, Healthy Living Market and Cafe, Northshire Bookstore, North Country Horses and more. I give you my favorite things for the summer (I’m obsessed with Zinka), some tips on unplugging the kids (I am actually going to try some of these myself this summer I swear), and talk about a new “style” of parenting that sounds pretty appealing right now.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 08.03.47 Screenshot 2014-06-25 08.03.17My good friend Robin gave us her style tips and the two fantastic moms from Adventures in Co-Parenting gave us one of their funniest columns yet. A bunch of you guys gave us your favorite things to do in Saratoga during the summer, and of course my friend and all around incredible photographer Tracey Buyce took our fabulous cover photo. We continued the Getaway feature with an amazing little mini break at High Peaks Resort and got some swaddling tips from Mamatoga favorite Aden + Anais.

My graphic designer Jake from Graphic Precision and I had a lot of fun putting this issue together as always, and even though he had to put up once again with my font obsession we are both excited to share it with everyone.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 08.02.47 Screenshot 2014-06-25 09.19.29I’d also like to thank all of my sponsors, because of you I can make Mamatoga Magazine a reality and I appreciate the support so much! When you see an advertisement in Mamatoga Magazine you know it is a business that I fully support, and one that in turn fully supports local small businesses like myself. I love being able to have a one on one relationship with my sponsors and give them a personal seal of approval.

I hope you all enjoy the issue, I have already started distributing it all over our area and will continue to do so all throughout the summer. I welcome any and all feedback, story ideas, and any other things you’d like to share with me, email me at Jenny@Mamatoga.com to keep in touch! I’ll be popping up soon in a national parenting magazine as well, stay tuned for details!

xoxo

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A Parent’s Reaction to Summer Vacation (in GIFS)

The day before the last day of school, when you realize you are packing the LAST LUNCH OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, HELLS YEAH!

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And you’re all like, “Yay! No more mad rush to make the bus every morning!”

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But then you realize, wait, there are how many days of summer vacation?

635347412552170157waitwhatgifAnd you remember that you never actually signed them up for any summer camps…

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But you try to look on the bright side…maybe they’ll sleep late since they don’t have to wake up for the bus?

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Maybe they’ll learn how to independently entertain themselves this summer?

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Maybe they’ll make up a new fun summer game?

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Maybe they’ll pick up a new hobby?

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Maybe you will pick up a new hobby?

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It’s okay though, you’ll get over that initial summer vacation shock…

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And you can learn to get in the groove of summer…

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Embrace the extra time you have to just hang out and chill…

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Maybe play a new sport…

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Indulge in some classic summertime treats…

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So don’t worry, even though you might wind up like this at the end of August…

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For now, focus on all the glorious summer memories you will be creating over the next couple of months…

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And you had better enjoy them now, because pretty soon, it’s going to be like this again…

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HAPPY SUMMER VACATION EVERYONE! xoxo

 

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