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Color Your Easter Eggs with Homemade Natural Dyes

March 26, 2017

Easter eggs with natural dyes

Coloring Easter eggs is a fun spring tradition, but do you really know what's in those commercial dye kits that you pick up at the supermarket? Dying your Easter eggs with your own homemade natural dyes is easier than you think, and the results can be really beautiful. You'll find plenty of recipes and formulas out there, some of which work better than others.

Over the years, we've experimented with various mixtures and figured out a few that really work well. You can make these plant- and food-based dyes with many of the things that you have on hand in the pantry or refrigerator, or can pick up at the farmer's market, so why not give it a try?

Family Farm Tours in Marin and Sonoma County

March 25, 2017

Tara Firma FarmsLearn where your food comes from at the free farm tour at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma

Spring is nearly here, and it's time to enjoy a day on the farm! We're lucky to live in an area that's surrounded by some of the country's top agricultural producers, and some of them offer farm tours for the whole family. On a tour, you can meet animals, learn where your food comes from, and find out about the efforts that local farmers take to provide us with high quality food. My kids love to visit farms, especially at this time of year when there are plenty of baby animals to see.

Here are some of the farms in Marin and Sonoma County that offer public tours. Some are free, and some require advance reservations. Please keep in mind that these are all real working farms, some of which raise animals for human consumption. All these tours are suitable for families.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30, 2017, Sonoma County Farm Trails offers its annual Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies event, where farm hosts will offer tours, activiites, demonstrations, animal petting, crafts for kids, and more. Some farms will offer snacks, lunches, and picnic sites. Admission is free. Learn more and register here.

Slide Ranch

2025 Shoreline Highway, Muir Beach 94965
(415) 381-6155
slideranch.org
Overlooking the Pacific in Muir Beach, Slide Ranch is a real working farm located on the lands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Families can visit and explore the grounds, hike the trails, and have a picnic daily from dusk to dawn. The ranch also offers family programs, including their annual Spring Fling (April 29, 2017), Family Farm Days, campouts, and Toddler Days at various times throughout the year.

Celebrate Spring with these Fun Family Outings

March 19, 2017

Japanese Tea Garden

Spring officially begins tomorrow, Monday, March 20! Daylight saving time is here, the weather is getting warmer, wildflowers are in bloom, and there are plenty of fun things for families to do. Here are some of our favorite springtime family events and outings in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. What's your family's favorite spring event?

Spring is in Bloom at the Japanese Tea Garden

March 18, 2017

San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden is a favorite spot for tourists in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, but it's also a great spot for local families. I've been visiting since I was a small child, and I've made sure that I introduced it to my children, too. Before I took them there, I had forgotten how magical this place is.

It's especially worth a visit at this time of year when the sakura, or flowering cherry trees, and azaleas are in full bloom. It's a magnificent and colorful spring sight that's really worth the effort to see. The kids love to explore the grounds and get some tea and a Japanese snack at the tea room.

Craft Idea: Easy St. Patrick's Day Friendship Bracelets

March 17, 2017

My daughter wanted to do an original craft for St. Patrick's Day—the only criteria were that it was something she could do by herself, she could wear it, and that it was green. I remembered my son making a simple bead friendship bracelet a few years back, so we decided to make St. Patty's day versions. They're super easy to make, even for littler children, and are a perfect way to wear your green on St. Patrick's Day.

To make the bracelets, you'll need green plastic beads and green pipe cleaners. I found both of these at the Dollar Tree, but they're also available at most craft stores, like Michael's or Beverly.

Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie for St. Patrick's Day

March 15, 2017

Shepherd's PieWith St. Patrick's Day coming up this week, my kids have been asking me to make Irish food for dinner. Since corned beef and cabbage is not exactly something you throw together after school, I've been trying other appropriate dishes from the British Isles, like this rib-sticking, easy-to-make, and kid-friendly shepherd's pie. It's essentially a beef-and-vegetable stew topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven until golden brown. I topped this version with a little grated Irish white cheddar cheese for a bit more authenticity.

This pub-grub favorite is more correctly known as "cottage pie", since it's made with ground beef instead of leftover roast lamb, but it's delicious no matter what it's called. I always try to bulk up the stew part with extra vegetables to make it a one-dish meal. My kids love this and even my picky-eater daughter asks for a second helping. Feel free to substitute ground turkey or ground lamb for the ground beef. You can also use chopped leftover roast beef or lamb in the filling.

This recipe serves 6 to 8, so we usually get two dinners out of it, reheating the leftovers on a weeknight. It actually tastes better after sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two! You can make this either in a casserole dish or in individual ramekins. The kids like the ramekins because each person gets his or her own little shepherd's pie! Watch out, though—the ramekins will be hot.

Ingredients

for the stew

Easy and Delicious Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick's Day

March 15, 2017

Slow-cooker corned beef and cabbageSt. Patrick's Day is coming up, and for many that means it's time to cook that quintessential Irish-American dish: corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef—usually a tough cut of meat like brisket or round—requires long, slow, cooking over low heat to make it tender, so it's the perfect candidate for preparing in your slow cooker.

Start your corned beef in the slow cooker early in the day; there's a minimal amount of preparation involved. Some recipes call for adding most of the vegetables at the same time, but I think they turn out a bit overcooked. Instead, add them to the pot during the last two hours of cooking.

With the proliferation of vegetables cooked with the meat, there's something here for everyone in the family. Serve your corned beef accompanied by grainy mustard, horseradish sauce*, and gravy** made from the cooking liquid. Also, when it comes to corned beef, bigger is better. Much of the weight of the meat is water, and it shrinks in size during cooking, so budget about one pound of meat per diner for a generous serving and leftovers (think corned beef sandwiches… mmm…). This recipe serves about 4 people, depending on how hungry everybody is.

Easter Egg Hunts in Marin & the Bay Area

March 14, 2017

Easter egg huntSwitch to rich text editor

Easter is just a few weeks away (it's on Sunday, April 16 this year), so it's time to start planning for egg hunts, breakfast with bunny and other special events. Part of the fun is celebrating spring and the Easter season with a traditional egg hunt, and there are Easter egg hunts scheduled at communities throughout Marin County.

Here's our list of fun Easter egg hunts and events taking place in Marin and other locations in the Bay Area. We'll update this list as we find out about additional events. If we've left out your favorite Marin or Bay  Easter egg hunt, please let us know and we'll add it to the roster.

Easter Bunny Photos

While your kids are waiting for the big day, they can visit the Easter Bunny and have their picture taken with him at his whimsical spring house at Northgate in Terra Linda. He'll be at the Macy's wing from March 29–April 15, 2017. Hours are Monday–Thursday, noon–8 pm, Friday-Saturday, 10 am-9 pm and Sunday, 11 am–6 pm. The Easter Bunny is located in the north mall entrance near Macy's. For more info, visit their website.

Belvedere & Tiburon

  • Bunny Hop & Egg Scramble
    Belvedere Community Center and Park
    Sunday, April 2, 10 am–noon

    Bring the kiddos for a carnival and Easter egg scramble. The Easter egg hunt is $5 per child. There will be four hunts during the event, children will be grouped by age: ages 0–2 on the grass and 4–5 yrs on the playground at 10:30 am; ages 2 and 3 on the grass and 6 and up at the playground at 11:15 am. Pre-sale packages for egg hunt and carnival are available by calling (415) 435-4355.  For more info, visit their website.

Six Spectacular Spring Wildflower Hikes for Families in Marin

March 6, 2017

Ring Mountain Wildflowers

Spring in California is spectacular, with an abundance of wildflowers, seasonal waterfalls, and wildlife. With all the rain we've been getting this season, spring's wildflowers should be even more spectacular than usual! Before the summer heat bakes the green hillsides brown, get the family out on the trail at one of these great Marin hiking spots with wonderful spring wildflower displays.

These hikes are perfect for a family outing at almost any time of year, but of course are especially nice during March and April. All the trails mentioned here are easy enough for everyone in the family to tackle, too.

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