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Halloween, Autumn, Christmas, Winter, Holiday, Thanksgiving, Holiday camps, Valentine's Day, Groundhog Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Spring, Mother's Day, Earth Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Summer, Holidays, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Father's Day, Labor Day, Time Change, Decorated Houses, Kwanzaa, Spring Break, Spring Cleaning, Gift Guide, Holiday Dance, Ski Week, Easter, Fall, Holiday Stress, New Year's, New Year's Eve, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Easter is going to be here soon, and it always feels like we participate in at least half a dozen Easter egg hunts. This is probably because we actually do! Since it's a special occasion, I've made sure the children have nice, quality Easter baskets that they can use for a few years, and perhaps even keep as mementos of their childhoods. I really love the stuff offered byPottery Barn Kids, (and who doesn't?), but I don’t always love the price tag that comes with it.
The other day, quite coincidentally, I received both the Pottery Barn Kids and the Lillian Vernon catalogues in the mail and noticed that they both offered very similar personalized Easter baskets at very different prices.
Right around Valentine’s Day, I always make a special stop at perrenial favorite See’s Candy to pick up some of their marshmallow-caramel hearts for the kids. If you want to get out there now beat the rush, here are some places to pick up some sweet treats for your Valentines:
See’s is the old California candy standby, with several locations in Marin. Their traditional stores haven’t changed in years, and they often hand out free samples, too. Their candy is definitely a few notches above your garden variety supermarket boxed chocolates.
Sees is also a great place to pick up your chocolate bunnies and other Easter candy. All their locations are open Monday through Friday 10 am–9 pm and 11 am to 6 pm on weekends. The long-standing location on Fourth Street in San Rafael is closed, but there are plenty of other locations in the county to choose from.
The Mall at Northgate, San Rafael, (415) 491-9729
Town Center Corte Madera, (415) 927-4430
Vintage Oaks Shopping Center, Novato, next to Jennie Low’s Chinese restaurant, (415) 892-0381
I decided that I’m going to do something for myself this year—I finally joined our local health club and I’m going to get myself back into shape. I signed up at the Marin YMCA a few weeks ago, and have to say that it was the best decision I’ve made so far this year. Not only am I able to take advantage of the workout room, but our entire family can participate in the classes and programs they have to offer as well.
One of our favorites features so far is the indoor pool. Believe it or not, we have been making a lot of use of it during on these recent rainy weekends, and my kids are able to burn off some energy as well as brush up on their swimming skills. My son wants to join the swim team in the spring and he needs to be able to swim the length of the pool first, so we’re getting in some valuable practice time.
There’s something I love about swimming in an indoor pool on a rainy day. At first thought it seems a little odd to want to go swimming when it’s cold and wet out, but once you get to the pool it’s warm and pleasant and a contrast to the yucky weather going just on the other side of the windows and walls.
It's the weekend after Christmas, and the holiday specials are off the TV, the all-Christmas-music radio stations have gone back to playing whatever they normally play, and those gifts that were under the tree are now scattered all over the house. Despite the big run-up of Christmas cheer, it's disappointing when the whole holiday train comes to a seemingly full and complete stop after December 25. While I feel a certain amount of relief that the holiday chaos is pretty much over, I'm also wishing that I had more time to slow down and savor the pleasures of the Christmas season.
Fortunately, I have good news for those of you out there who haven't yet had your fill of holiday cheer—the Christmas houses are still open! If you're still looking for that holiday spirit, head on down to one of our local decorated houses and take in the magic one last time (or two or three, even).
This last weekend we finally put up the Christmas tree and all its associated trimmings. This meant that it was also the time for my annual lecture about how the Christmas tree is not a toy, and neither are the ornaments. Actually, it wasn't so much a lecture as a series of shouted admonitions aimed at not breaking quite as many ornaments as feared during the tree-decorating frenzy.
Ironically, while many of the ornaments on our tree look like toys, they're not. They actually seem to be make out a plastic-like substance that breaks if, for example, you look at it. This, coupled with the sheer irresistability of the toy-like ornamants to small children led to considerable ornament carnage in our house over the weekend. Our kitchen counter was turned into an impromptu Christmas tree ornament triage ward where Spongebob Squarepants, the Grinch, and a wooden elephant all lay ready to undergo emergency surgery. "Super Glue—stat!" I shouted to my trusty nurse, who, being at the other end of the house, suggested I get it myself.
For many of us, the holidays mean it's time to bake cookies and other seasonal treats. It's always fun to get the kids involved, and this gingerbread cookie recipe via What's Cooking's Michelle Stern is a perfect one to use. It doesn't take a long time to make (no rest time in the refrigerator), and it can be worked and shaped like play-dough. Unlike a lot of cookie doughs it holds its form and doesn't melt into a shapeless blob in the oven.
Gingerbread Cookie Play-Dough
5 ½ c. flour
3 t. baking soda
1 ¾ c. dark brown sugar
¼ c. dark molasses
4 ½ t. ground cinnamon
3 t. ground ginger
½ t. cloves
¼ t. salt
1 c. melted butter
½ c. boiling water
1 egg, beaten
Click on a Christmas tree marker on our customized Google map to open a popup window for that location—clicking on a link in the window will take you to a listing with location details, hours, and contact information for that tree farm or lot, as well as information about tree types and special features like gift shops, petting zoos, complimentary refreshments, and more.
The Marin and southern Sonoma County Christmas tree farms and lots currently listed on the map some of our and our readers' favorites. If we've missed one that you think should be included, please let us know and we'll consider adding it to the map.
This year for Christmas my son inadvertantly decided that he wanted what turned out to be the hot toy this season: the amazing Playmobil Egyptian Pyramid. While it's apparently a totally cool toy, I never dreamed that it would be something that would be wiped off the shelves of every toy store and big box realtor in west of the Mississipi. In fact, we've noticed that many popular toys, especially things like LEGO and Playmobil, are just gone—as in not there, out-of-stock, backordered, or never there in the first place.
Are you a Marin mom making and selling something extraordinary on Etsy? If so, tell us about it! We're looking for some local moms who sell their handcrafted products on Etsy for an upcoming feature on Marin Mommies. If you fit that description, please contact us and tell us about what you're doing.
We're specifically looking for Marin or Sonoma county residents who are creating items of interest to families, such as baby and children's clothing, toys, art, etc. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your work, and of course include a link to your home page on Etsy.