One of the best things about spring is knowing that you can get fresh, sweet, locally grown organic strawberries at the farmer's market or grocery store. To celebrate, we love to make this easy and delicious strawberry shortcake dessert. This simple combination of lightly sweet shortcake, fresh strawberries, and vanilla flavored whipped cream is a hit with just about everyone, and is suitable for every occasion, from a fancy dinner to a kids' tea party.
These shortcakes are kind of like sweet buttermilk drop biscuits, and don't take very long to put together. If you're really in a hurry, you can use whipped cream from a can, but it doesn't take too much time or effort to make some fresh whipped cream with your electric mixer, and it tastes so much better, too.
You can make the shortcakes and whipped cream in advance and let diners assemble their own strawberry shortcake creations at the table, if you like. It's fun for both children and adults. Whipped cream keeps fine in the refrigerator for a few hours, and you can make it extra-thick and rich by putting it in a strainer over a bowl and letting some of the water drain out.
If you haven't been to the beautiful and picturesque Slide Ranch in Muir Beach, now is your chance. Come to this non-profit teaching farm overlooking the ocean to celebrate food, family, and fun at this year's Spring Fling this Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.
This year's Spring Fling includes live kid-friendly music, local organic cuisine, and hands-on farm and craft activities for all ages. Learn where your food comes from by milking goats, feeding chickens, and touring the garden, or making bread, butter, and cheese. See how a sweater is made through sheep shearing, carding and spinning wool, and other wool crafts. Attend an informative bee keeping workshop with Marin Bee Company Family. Come reconnect with the land on a guided coastal hike, or simply relax on a picnic blanket while eating delicious offerings from local farms.
Live performers at Spring Fling include Sofi Rox, Fire and Oak (Marin Academy acoustic band), Tim Cain, and Helen King and the Star King Stompers.
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.
We just went this week one day after school, since at this time of year 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.
The Japanese Tea Garden is lush and tranquil with all its spring flowers blossoming, and even with the many tourists roaming around it still had the feeling of being a peaceful retreat from the bustle outside. We always try to make it a point to visit every time we're in Golden Gate Park, no matter what the time of year.
Get your tickets for the Mad Hatter's Spring Tea Party at San Rafael's Falkirk Cultural Center on Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28, 2013. There will be two tea party sittings, at noon and 3 pm each day.
Join Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse for this Wonderland tea party, complete with tea sandwiches, beverages, and dessert. The company of characters in original costumes, from the Stark Ravens Historical Players, will entertain and make the little ones giggle and dream as they sip their “tea”. Falkirk’s beautiful and elegant Victorian setting is the perfect place for this spring tea party.
The cost is $27.50 for adults and $22.50 for children, which includes all the food you can eat and a goodie bag for each child. Bring your camera for great photos! Reservations are required; call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
Spring in California is spectacular, with an abundance of wildflowers, waterfalls (provided it rains), and wildlife. Before the summer heat bakes the hillside grass brown, get the family out on the trail at one of these great Marin hiking spots. These hikes are perfect for a family outing at almost any time of year, but are especially nice during the spring. These trails are easy enough for everyone in the family to tackle.
Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve near Tiburon is home to spring wildflowers and spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tam. The trails here are great for kids of all ages and even offroad strollers. Best of all, it's located right near Tiburon and Corte Madera.
Martin Griffin Preserve at Audubon Canyon Ranch near Stinson Beach offers miles of easy hiking trails for families, as well as fun and fascinating educational opportunities. This preserve, a nesting site for Great Herons, is only open on weekends from mid-March through mid-July.
Spring is in bloom at Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve near Tiburon. The wildflower display is simply stunning at this time of year, and the views of San Francisco, Mt. Tamalpais, and the entire Bay Area are equally spectacular.
We took a family hike there this week and were amazed by the variety and amount of blooms on view. If you haven't been to Ring Mountain, it's definitely worth a visit. Make sure you bring a camera—it's a great place for a family photo.
This preserve on a hill above Tiburon was saved from development back in the 1990s, and is home to a number of rare plants, like the Tiburon Mariposa Lilly, which is found nowhere else in the world. Large boulders and rocks are scattered throughout the hillside. You'll even find remnants of Native American settlements here in the way of petroglyphs and a grinding rock.
Come celebrate spring at the San Francisco Zoo! The annual crowd pleaser Big Bunny’s Spring Fling takes place on Easter weekend, March 30 and 31, from 11 am to 3 pm. This fun event features a meet and greet with Quicky the Nestlé NESQUIK Bunny, puppet shows, crafts, play time with Princess Honey Bunny, an Alice in Wonderland-themed nature trail walk, a barnyard stampede, a chick hatchery tour, and a duck pond feeding. With the help of the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control, visitors can also have up-close encounters with live bunnies.
In April, the zoo holds an Earth Day celebration on Sunday, April 21, from 10 am–3 pm. The theme for this event is “Slow Down for the Planet." Families are encouraged to visit and “get back to basics.” Visit the Nature Exploration Zone and get your hands dirty creating art and building play structures and forts using natural items such as sticks and leaves, enjoy climate change “Power Down” keeper talks and activity stations, and meander through Greenie’s Conservation Garden.
This week's spring-like weather has us wishing that winter was over already. Get a jump on the season with this ladybug craft made from a recycled egg carton. These ladybugs are adorable, easy to make, and of course environmentally friendly. My daughter loves to make this craft with our old egg cartons and then use her ladybugs to decorate her bedroom windowsill.
Supplies you'll need:
Empty egg carton
Black pipe cleaners
Small or medium black pom poms
Small wiggle eyes
Crayola or other watercolor kids paints in black and other colors
Even when the weather's been wet in Marin, it can be a lot of fun to head outdoors and take a hike, especially when there's something exciting to see at the end of the trail, like a waterfall. Marin's waterfalls are some of the county's hidden treasures, and are best appreciated when they're running full force in winter and spring. The Fairway Waterfall, also known as Arroyo de San Jose Waterfall, is a seasonal waterfall that can be found on a trail at the end of Fairway Drive, in Novato's Country Club neighborhood. We went to check out the waterfall yesterday and it was amazing.
The waterfall can be especially spectacular during and just after a good rainstorm, like the one we had this weekend. The trail to the Fairway waterfall is short and easy and the trailhead is easy to get to, so it's perfect for kids. So bundle up, put on those puddle stompers and raincoats, and head outdoors for a waterfall hike!