Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

January 17, 2015

cinnamon rollsSometimes a hot fresh cinnamon roll really hits the spot, especially as part of a weekend breakfast or brunch. We usually buy a package of refrigerated unbaked cinnamon rolls from Trader Joe's, but we recently tried making our own from scratch. At first the idea seemed a little daunting, since it involved yeast, letting the dough rise, and making a sugary glaze, but you know what? It really wasn't that difficult at all!

Since you do have to let the dough rise a bit, you have to plan making these a bit in advance, but it stil goes fairly quickly. You can also make the glaze with either freshly squeezed orange juice or even coffee in place of the milk. It all depends on what you're in the mood for. This recipe makes 10 to 12 sticky, sweet, and delicious cinnamon rolls. The kids love to help make these, too, so have them lend a hand in the kitchen!


for the cinnamon rolls

Marin Weekend Family Fun: January 16, 17, 18 & 19

January 16, 2015
Learn all about the famous Sea Lions at PIER 39 in San Francisco this weekend. Photo: PIER 39.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this MLK weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, January 16

  • Sing and Dance with Miss Kitty
    San Rafael Public Library
    Friday, 10:30–11:15 am

    Join Marin County favorite Miss Kitty for a series of fun family concerts just right for children aged birth to 8 years old. Free, no registration required! Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3322 or visit their website.
  • Sea Lion Encounter at PIER 39
    PIER 39's Entrance Plaza, San Francisco
    Friday–Monday, 11 am–4 pm

    Learn everything you ever wanted to know about California sea lions during the celebration of the return of these gregarious pinnipeds to PIER 39's famous K-docks! Free educational walking tours provided by naturalists from the Aquarium of the Bay. Tours begin at the top of the hour between noon and 4 pm each day. Enjoy complementary refreshments. For more info, visit their website.
  • Parents Night Out
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 5–10 pm

    Drop off the kids and enjoy a night out! While you relax, the kids will be having fun with the Marinwood camp staff playing games, park time, arts, crafts, snacks & more! This event often sells out—register early! For ages 2–10. Cost: $20; $18 sibling (same family) discount. For more info and registration call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.

Saturday, January 17

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Rockin' Ropes Opening Weekend
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday-Monday, 9 am–5 pm

    The zoo invites kids ages 4–14 years old to enjoy the elevated ropes obstacle course "Rockin’ Ropes Adventure" in the Pachyderm Building. To keep everyone active and healthy for the new year, this challenging ropes course will be open on weekends and school holidays. Young visitors can zip, swing, jump, step, and slide their way through 30 feet of fun; for this opening weekend a bounce-house obstacle course will be availalble for the little ones. Fee: $3 upper-level SFZS members, $5 regular SFZS members, and $7 general (after museum admission). For more info, visit their website.
  • Whale Watching at Point Reyes Lighthouse
    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 9 am–3:30 pm

    Go see the whales out at the Point Reyes Light House and Chimney Rock. Shuttle buses leave Drakes Beach every 15–20 minutes. The cost is $7 per person; children under 16 are free. No cars allowed at Point Reyes Light House on weekends and holidays December 26 through mid-April. For more info, visit their website.
  • New Exhibit: Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday–Monday, 9 am–5 pm
    Step into the pages of beloved children’s books and enter a world of early literacy adventures! Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites immerses children and adults in favorite picture books, from the gardens of The Tale of Peter Rabbit to the urban snowscape of The Snowy Day and the tropical island of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Designed for children from birth through 8 years old and adults, Storyland engages visitors in storylines and literacy activities that lead them to discover that it’s never too early to develop a love of reading. Free after museum admission. For more info, visit their website.

Hands-on Fun for Spring at Slide Ranch

January 16, 2015

slide ranch spring flingSlide Ranch is a great place for family members of all ages. We tried out one of their family farm days in the past and my kids had a great time petting the sheep planting seeds, milking a goat, and making nature crafts. They offer guided tours and lots of hands-on activities, including collecting eggs from chickens, planting seeds, sampling from their organic garden, learning to make crafts and food just like the early farmers, and exploring the nearby tide pools.

Slide Ranch is located off of Shoreline Highway in Muir Beach. Below is a list of their upcoming spring events. Their programs do fill up quickly, so you need to plan ahead if you are interested in participating. Register for programs online at www.slideranch.org.

Spring Family Farm Days

  • Ocean Exploration Family Farm Days
    Saturday March 14, 2015 and Saturday May 23, 2015, 10 am–2 pm
    Enjoy ocean-themed activities and a hike to the tide pools. The low tide will reveal sea stars, anemones, and many other marine discoveries. Each family will receive a free copy of the book, Exploring Low Tide in Northern California. Cost: $25 per person; age 2 and under free.
  • Sheep to Shawl Family Farm Day
    Saturday, March 21, 2015, 10 am–2 pm
    Our clothing comes from animals and plants! Learn the whole process, from sheep shearing demonstrations in our pasture to wool spinning in the yurt. Watch a live demonstration of how sheep get a haircut, and local wool expert Christie Collins will teach us fun activities to show how that wool eventually becomes a sweater. Everyone will get a chance to spin wool and take home some soft memories of the day! Cost: $25 per person; age 2 and under free.

Nature for Kids Hikes with Marin County Parks Are Fun and Fascinating

January 15, 2015

Nature for Kids hike with Marin County ParksIt's a New Year, so why not resolve to spend more time outdoors as a family? Get some exercise, explore Marin County's many parks and open space preserves, and learn about the natural wonders that can be found all around us. A fantastic and eye-opening way to get out and experience nature in Marin is to take part in one of the naturalist-led family outings offered by Marin County Parks.

The parks department's Nature for Kids outings take place at Marin's many open space areas, and feature a leisurely, kid-paced hike with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way. The hikes are informal and unstructured, and perfect for kids of all ages, although they seem geared for kids ages 3 to 12.

Led by experienced and knowledgeable naturalists like David Herlocker, these hikes allow everyone in the family to get up-close-and-personal with insects, reptiles, spiders, birds, and other flora and fauna that call Marin home. The programs are really fascinating and will make you look at our open spaces in a completely different way.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

January 13, 2015

Rush Creek Open Space PreserveHiking with children is a great way to get them into the outdoors and introduce them to nature, but it can be a bit of a challenge. Small legs seem to tire out faster than larger ones, and when they outgrow both the stroller and the backpack it's best to seek out some shorter hikes with few hills or elevation changes that the whole family can enjoy with a minumum of complaining. One of our favorite easy family hikes can be found at Rush Creek Open Space Preserve, on the northern end of Novato.

This 552-acre preserve features wide and gentle trails that are perfect for families. They're easily manageable with an off-road capable jogging stroller, and kids' bikes should be able to tackle the fire roads with ease. You'll share the trails with plenty of hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, as well as birders checking out the countless shorebirds and waterfowl that make their homes in the adjacent wetlands.

Volunteer and More in Marin on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 13, 2015

Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the Bay Area Discovery MuseumThis coming Monday, January 19, 2015, is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. While you could just enjoy the day off from work and school, why not make it a day of service to your community? Celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and and make it a "day on" not "day off" to help make our community a better place for everyone.

Here are MLK Day volunteer opportunities for families on Monday in Marin County.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Marin County Civic Center
10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael
Monday, 9 am–noon
Come work together on MLK Day to spruce up landscaped areas at the Marin County Civic Center. All skill levels are welcome and no previous experience is necessary. All ages are welcome; anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a supervising adult. Dress in layers you can get dirty, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water. Snacks and extra water will be provided. Questions: Contact Volunteer Coordinator Kirk Schroeder at (415) 763-2977. For more info, visit the Marin County Parks website.

Classes for New & Expectant Parents at Marin General Hospital

January 13, 2015

Both my children were born at Marin General Hospital. Overall, it was a great experience—their staff is awesome and they’re a great resource for new parents. Not only were we well taken care of, but we were also able to take advantage of the wide variety of classes offered by MGH to help smooth things along for new and expectant parents. These classes are offered to the public.

Some of the classes available at Marin General include prenatal and postnatal instruction classes for expectant parents, infant care, CPR, breastfeeding help, a father class, a free mom’s support group, and help for siblings adjusting to a new brother or sister.

They also offer a childbirth and infant-care “value package” for $230 per couple. This seven-class series covers pretty much everything you need to know about bringing home a new baby, and includes topics like breastfeeding, post partum expectations and realities, care of your newborn, and home and car safety. Classes are two hours each, and the first three classes can be taken as a single one-day childbirth class. Programs take place in MGH’s convenient location at 250 Bon Air Road in Greenbrae.

Slow-roasted Rotisserie-style Chicken

January 12, 2015

faux-tisserie roast chickenA roast chicken can be satisfying and delicious, but it can be deceptively difficult to make. I've been experimenting with trying to make the perfect roast chicken (I'm getting there, I think), and have been using different techniques to see how they turn out. One of the more successful ones is a "faux-tisserie" chicken, which attempts to develop the same fall-off-the bone texture that you get from your favorite rotisserie-cooked bird.

The general technique comes from Bon Appetit magazine, which advocates cooking the chicken low and slow for hours. I decided to flavor it like they do at Gira Polli in Mill Valley, whose wood-fired rotisserie chickens I think are some of the best in Marin. While this is not a whip-it-up-after-you-get-home-from-work recipe, it's really pretty easy. You just need to be around for the 3 hours it takes to cook it.

Super Soccer Stars Comes to Marin - For Ages 12 Months & Up

January 12, 2015

super soccer starsMarin Mommies Presents a sponsored article from Super Soccer Stars.

By popular demand, the country’s most popular child-development soccer program is coming to the Bay Area!

Try a free class at Demo Day:
Saturday, January 17
Mill Valley Community Center
9:30–10:10 am: 2–3 year olds
10:15–11 am: 3–young 4 year olds
11:05–11:45 am: 12–24 month olds (parent participation)
11:50 am–12:45 pm: Older 4–5 year olds

Spaces limited! RSVP to (415) 233-8277 or sf@supersoccerstars.com.

Warm up your winter with Super Soccer Stars classes for ages 12 months and up! With the lowest child-to-coach ratios in California, Super Soccer Stars teaches soccer skills in a fun, non-competitive and educational environment. Through an age-specific curriculum, soccer is used to nurture, build self-confidence and develop teamwork. Low child-to-coach ratios and positive reinforcement ensure that each child improves at his or her own pace while having a blast!

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