Make Your Own Easy Homemade Pretzels

February 21, 2015

homemade pretzelsIt's almost as fun for kids to make their own snacks as it is for them to eat them! This pretzel recipe is easy, fast, and perfect for children to help with, and the results are delicious, too. My kids love to make these tasty pretzels when friends come over. It's a great activity for rainy days and playgroups, too. Why not bake up a batch this weekend?

The only part of this recipe that's not kid-friendly is boiling the pretzels briefly in a baking soda and water solution—have a grown-up handle this part. This step gives the pretzels their characteristic crunch, brown color, and flavor. You can omit it if you like; the pretzels will still be good, but won't be quite the same.

To make the pretzels you'll need:

Marin Family Weekend Fun for February 20, 21 & 22

February 20, 2015

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

Friday, February 20

  • Lake Fishing for Kids
    Stafford Lake County Park, Novato
    Friday, 9–11 am

    Rangers will cast out with the kids at Stafford Lake Park, and try to reel in the biggest fish in the lake. A limited number of fishing poles and bait will be provided. A fishing license is not required for persons under 16. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary.  RSVPs appreciated but not required. Questions or to RSVP: jgilmore@marincounty.org. For more info, visit their website.
  • 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.
  • Mid-Winter Movie Fest: Despicable Me
    San Anselmo Library
    Friday, 2–4 pm

    Bring the kiddos for an afternoon of fun and a movie. Free. Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Council Chambers, San Anselmo. For more info, call (415) 258-4600 or visit their website.

Saturday, February 21

  • Olompali Family Bird Walk
    Olompali State Historic Park, Novato
    Saturday, 8:30 am–noon

    Beginning and experienced birders are invited to join leaders Rich Cimino and Janet Bodle of Yellowbilled Tours to view Olompali's diverse avian residents as we walk the old ranch road past the park's reservoir. Expect to see some migrating species as well as species who thrive in the park's oak savanna and open grasslands: raptors, warblers, nuthatches, thrushes and—of course—many woodpeckers. Meet in the Olompali parking lot at 8:30 am. Wear layered clothing and bring binoculars, lunch, plenty of water, and a birding field guide if you have one. Free; $8 per car parking fee. For more info, visit their website.
  • Celebrate the Year of the Sheep
    San Francisco Botanical Garden
    Saturday, 9 am–1:30 pm

    Bring the whole family to a day of special performances and hands-on activities in celebration of the Year of the Sheep. See lion dancers, lively folk dances, tai chi demonstrations with dazzling sword forms and more. Enjoy family-friendly children's activities and Lunar New Year Story Times! Location: 9th Avenue, just inside Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • 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.
  • Lunar New Year Celebration
    Habitot Children's Museum
    Saturday, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

    Lunar New Year is a time of family reunion, food, music and dance. There will be an exciting dragon parade through the museum in which children can participate. Children can practice black ink calligraphy and also create their own paper dragon puppets in the Art Studio. Location: 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 647-1111 or visit their website.
  • Climb Aboard at the Pacific Coast Air Museum
    Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–4 pm

    Sit in the cockpits of our vintage aircraft, and learn about the history of where and how they were used from the crews who have lovingly restored them. The museum features one or two historic aircraft each Climb Aboard Weekend. Ordinay museum admission fee applies. Location: 1 Air Museum Way, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tulipmania at Pier 39
    San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am

    Pier 39 has planted 39,000 spectacular and colorful tulips throughout the waterfront park. Come for a free guided tour led by Pier 39’s expert landscapers beginning at 10 am daily from the Entrance Plaza. After each tour, enjoy complimentary refreshments. For more info, visit their website.
  • Patchwork Series Children's Show: Rudy Trubitt & Hiram Bell
    Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley
    Saturday, 11 am
    (doors open at 10:45 am)
    Rudy Trubitt and Hiram Bell appear regularly at the Freight: Rudy hosts the Patchwork Series while Bell teaches beginner and intermediate ukulele classes. They'll combine their considerable talents (guitar, ukulele, harmonica, porch-board and more) in an engaging, interactive performance for young and old alike. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 644-2020 or visit their website.
  • Lunar Chinese New Year Festival
    Fourth Street in Berkeley
    Saturday, noon–4 pm
    Join 4th street merchants for a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year featuring a traditional candy giveaway at participating shops, lion and dragon dancing, martial arts demonstrations, and a blessing of the stores. Free. Location: 4th Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Chinese New Year: Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company
    Presidio Library Meeting Room
    Saturday, 2–3:30 pm
    Celebrate the Year of the Sheep with a performance of traditional and contemporary Chinese Dance with the Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Free. Location: 3150 Sacramento Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Get Back to Nature at Summer Camp 2015

February 19, 2015

NatureBridge Coastal Camp Marin HeadlandsLiving in Marin, you don't have to look far for a summer camp that takes advantage of some of the amazing natural resources we have right in our own backyard. Parents have several outstanding nature and outdoors oriented summer camps to choose from. Here is a selection of some of our favorite day camps in Marin that have an emphasis on the outdoors and the natural world around us for ages 4 to 18. To find more fantastic summer camps, visit our 2015 Marin Summer Camp Guide.

  • Audubon Summer Adventures Camp is located at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Tiburon. Camp sessions start June 8 and run through August 14. Week-long sessions for kids 4–9 take place from 9 am–2 pm, include themes like Amazing Predators, The Mighty Bay, Survivor, Shark Week, and Mud Warriors. Fees for these sessions are $340 per week. They also offer Expedition Camp ($385 per week) and On the Fly Camp ($340 per week) for children in grades 4–6, where campers deliver a little deeper into the varied habitats of Marin County and visit environments like the bay, ocean, redwood forest, and more. Extended hours untiil 5 pm are available for an additional cost. Visit their website for more information and to register.

Sewing 101 for Kids at Marinwood

February 18, 2015

sewing 101 for kids marinwoodMarinwood is excited to announce Sewing 101 for Kids taught by the creative experts from Novato's Studio 4 Art!

This class is designed to create excitement, comfort, confidence, and a love for sewing. Class will focus on back stitch, over sewing, blanket stitch, and running stitches, while incorporating art skills of screen printing and stamping to create your own fabric! Puppets, stuffies, creatures, pillows and bags are just some of the focus. Students will even gain knowledge in simple pattern making and a light introduction to machine sewing. It will be a fun and educational class for all!

Classes will be held at the Marinwood Community Center on Wednesdays from 3 to 4 pm, from February 25 to March 25. The class is designed for children ages 6 to 10. The Marinwood Community Center is located 775 Miller Creek Road in San Rafael.

To register online please visit www.marinwood.org or call (415) 479-0775. Mention Marin Mommies and receive 15% off!

Kids Eat for Free in Marin

February 17, 2015

kids eat free in marinLike many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet. Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week.

Here's our list of kids-eat-free offers, broken down by location. Please note that all information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of publishing, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.

Corte Madera

  • Best Lil' Porkhouse BBQ
    60 Madera Boulevard
    Corte Madera 94925
    415) 927-RIBS

    Kids eat free at the Best Lil' Porkhouse BBQ in Corte Madera on Mondays. Get up to one free kids' meal with the purchase of each adult meal. www.bestlilporkhouse.com

Hands-on Museums for Kids and Families in Marin and the Bay Area

February 17, 2015

Exploratorium hands-on fun museumMuseum visitors are often told not to touch anything, but not at the museums listed here! These seven local Marin County and San Francisco Bay Area museums offer lots of fun hands-on activities for kids and families. They're perfect for rainy-day outings or any time, really.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Families with kids up to age 8 love Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum for its combination of hands-on fun, exciting programs and performances, rotating special exhibitions (currently it's Storyland), and a great play area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It's a fantastic place to play away the day and take in the amazing views. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm. More info: www.baykidsmuseum.org or (415) 339-3900.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

February 16, 2015

pasta with brussels sproutsI know… it's a culinary cliché that the one vegetable kids hate most is Brussels sprouts. While some people think they're icky, our family loves them, especially if they're prepared right. I'm firmly convinced that the reason people don't like certain vegetables is because they aren't cooked properly.

This Brussels sprout pasta dish is something I put together recently in an effort to find a way to use the little guys in a main dish. I think it turned out really good, and my son even asked for seconds! There aren't many ingredients in this dish—less is definitely more in this case. Just make sure you use fresh high-quality sprouts and good olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried pasta of your choice (we used rigatoni)
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered or shredded

Celebrate the Year of the Sheep at the Bay Area Discovery Museum Today!

February 16, 2015

Dragon for chinese new year at bay area discovery museumGung hay fat choy! Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum opens on a Monday (something that happens rarely) for its annual Chinese New Year Festival. The festivities take place today, February 16 (Presidents' Day) from 9 am to 5 pm. At the this celebration of the Year of the Sheep, the whole family can find something to do. Try your hand at traditional Chinese calligraphy, construct a paper lantern, see a vibrant performance by the Chinese Performing Arts of America Youth Group, dine on delicious Chinese food, or make your own sweet wonton (they’ll even cook them for you).

You can also learn about the Chinese zodiac and enjoy an exciting performance by the lion dancers of the Marin Chinese Cultural Group at 10 am and 2 pm. Lion dance performances take place in the museum's Festival Plaza.

10 Fun Family Activities for Mid-Winter Break

February 15, 2015

Tubing at Northstar California in Lake TahoeWhether you're heading up to Lake Tahoe for skiing or hanging around home for "Ski Week", there are plenty of fun things to do with the kids during their time off this week! Since the weather has been amazing here lately, we've included plenty of ideas for outdoor family fun.

Here's our list of 10 fun family activities and outings in Marin and beyond for mid-winter break.

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