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A long time ago I figured out that wine makes a great gift for the holidays. It’s available at all different price points, which works out well for budgeting, and you can do all your shopping at one location. Plus, everyone enjoys receiving a good bottle of wine. My wife also enjoys shopping for it, and has a special way of doing so: one for them, one for her. I thought…

Over the years I have had countless conversations about the concept of money and spirituality. Some believe money is the antithesis of spirituality. But to determine if your desire for money is materialistic or spiritual, then you must become aware of how you are feeling at the moment of your “wanting.” How you feel (or wish to feel) will determine the appropriateness …

My parents started our family tradition in 1947: Santa comes on Christmas Eve and puts up the Christmas tree. Back then there were only real trees, and while my parents didn’t tromp into the woods to chop their own, my father did like to reengineer Mother Nature. He’d buy two trees: one to go inside, the second one for “parts.” If there were empty places or less th…

I give the gift that keeps on giving: disappointment. I’m terrible at picking out gifts. What I lack in financial resources, I make up for in awkward decision-making. It’s not that I dislike buying things for other people. The season of giving inspires me to share with my fellow man. I love to give, I just stink at giving. Santa should put me in charge of his ‘Bad’…

Milestone birthdays are often cause for reflection. Upon turning 50 this fall, I realized this will be my 51st holiday season. At 12 days a pop, that’s 612 days of Christmas and counting. Nearly two whole years of my life have happened during the holidays…not even counting Thanksgiving or New Year’s. So what have I learned, celebrated, dreaded and been inspired by? A…

It’s no secret that I barely noticed the beauty of food until a few years ago. But after joining Delaware North and being immersed in a world of culinary art and trained chefs, and being surrounded by co-workers and a husband who grow weepy over a beautiful meal, I now understand the importance of incorporating food into life’s important moments, especially the holiday…

In Erika Smerkar-Moore’s Amherst home, four o’clock is known as the “bewitching hour.” Relatives know not to call during that ultra-busy time, when she is rushing to get dinner out and her four children — Ava, 10; Gavin, 8; Finn, 7; and Ronan, 4 — are finishing up homework. Each child is being Suzuki-trained in an instrument, which requires three hours of pract…

The 2010 U.S. census revealed a significant rise in nontraditional households in America; married straight couples with children now make up less than half of U.S. households. Today, more and more families are blended, or headed by same-sex partners or single parents.  And Western New York is home to countless “modern families.” But while the snapshot of what “typ…

What’s the latest style in kids’ rooms? We found three adorable bedrooms to share. Twin boys’ vintage superhero room Laura Murphy, mom of three young boys and owner and designer of Pear Design Studio (Pear-design-studio.com) in Grand Island, included her 8- and 5-year old sons in the process of designing their superhero-themed bedroom from the very beginning. Murph…

Long drives along foliage-lined roads, hay rides, warm cider, apple picking, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, costume parties – it’s time for fall fun in Western New York. But look a little further and you’ll find there’s even more to do during the autumn season. This year, explore some of the more unique (and spooky!) family-friendly places in the 716; here are s…

Rocco Samuel Diina, age 4, is a happy, healthy active youngster. He’s also picky eater. Toast, buttered noodles, pancakes and French fries pretty much make up his diet. His mom, Sarah, says Rocco has been a picky eater for as long as she remembers. “He just doesn’t like food,” Diina said. “Even with foods he likes, there is never a sense of pleasure when he ea…

For many families, sports are a step away from the mind-numbing, obesity-fueling world of electronics and a way to develop physical skills while learning to win and lose with grace. But along with that comes the threat of injury — from the minor to the cataclysmic — that can sideline a child for a season, or alter his life forever. During one of his son’s football…

Photographing children has long been a favorite hobby of parents and grandparents, and the advent of smartphones and social media have made achieving the cutest kid photos a daily challenge. So what’s the best way to capture a frame- or post-worthy photo? We asked the experts for their top five tips: Use the best lighting available Bill Kramer, photo design specialist…

So you’ve thought about taking that big step: bringing home a sweet little bundle of cuteness. Reveling in all that unconditional love. Watching your pride and joy grow up. Ah, parenthood. More specifically: pet parenthood. Who hasn’t considered adopting man’s best friend – canine or feline? Who hasn’t melted at the sight of an adorable, tiny puppy or kitten st…

A trip to New York City can procure a list of varied reactions: excitement, anxiety, joy at the idea of basking in the bright lights of a city that never sleeps, tears, general nausea, lightheaded wonder — and that’s only from booking a hotel in midtown Manhattan. Such an incredibly massive city presents an equally massive scale of options — so many, in fact, that an…