Friday, November 21, 2014

Bay Area Tree Lighting Ceremonies 2014

It's more exciting to watch a giant tree get lit up, than watch your own. So head to these tree lightings for some holiday fun.

What: Rec and Park's 85th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting
When: Thursday, December 4, time TBA (last year it was 4-8)
Where: McLaren Lodge, Golden Gate Park
Activities: TBA - last year they had train rides, live entertainment and Santa visits.

What: Union Square, Macy's 25th annual tree lighting
When: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 6 p.m. for the ceremony, actual tree lighting at 6:40
Where: Union Square
Activities: entertainment; it gets crowded so arrive early

What: Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting
When: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 5:30 (activities 4-9)
Where; Ghirardelli Square
Activities: live music, kids' entertainment, Santa visit

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gingerbread House Activities in the Bay Area - 2014

My kids are begging me for a gingerbread house kit again this year, but every year they start and don't finish it. And then they don't clean up. So I'm looking into other options. Fortunately the Bay Area has many.


The Mandarin Oriental is hosting "ho-ho-ho homes for the holiday" on Saturday, December 7, which includes gingerbread house making from 2-4. Kids get their own aprons and chef hats, decorating gingerbread houses and sugar cookies. For drinking, there's a hot chocolate bar (parents can hit the adult bar and get small plates on their own dime). Cost is $60/kid. RSVP at or call (415) 276-9784.
St. Francisco sugar tree. Photo by Peter Medilek

Not for your own making (okay, and not gingerbread), but check out the Westin St. Francis' 12 foot tall sugar tree. It has 1,000 pieces of hand-crafted candies and ornaments, including handmade snowmen, sugar ribbons, gift boxes, Christmas trees, candy canes, elves and stars in the rotating tree. It's in the lobby November 26-January 2, at 335 Powell in SF.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Up: Chick Tech Event - free

If you or someone you know has a high school age girl who is interested in technology, check out the Chick Tech 2014 High School Tech event this Sunday. The girls in the organization create their own tech project and will display them in workshops.

Chick Tech's goal is to close the gender imbalance in the technology industry. By showing these girls that coding is fun, this gives them fewer barriers as they decide what they want to pursue after high school.

The event is free

Where: **new location** 88 Colin P Kelly Jr. Street at Brannon, San Francisco
When: Sunday, November 23 from 4:15-5:30

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coming Up: Storytelling in Music with Joel Ben Izzy - free

The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is back with a fabulous FREE program for families: Storytelling in Music, with Joel ben Izzy.

This Bay Area storyteller has some tales to share, accompanied by music provided by the SFCO. This program features a reprise of last season’s Main Stage hit Luck or Wisdom?, a folktale paired with an energetic klezmer-style score by Stephen Saxon.

When/Where: Venue info here.
Saturday, November 22 at 2 p.m. - San Francisco Calvary Presbyterian Church
Sunday, November 23 at noon - Oakland Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Sunday, November 23 at 3:30 - San Mateo College of San Mateo Theatre

Coming Up: The Stumpers Book Launch

I don't write about a lot of book launch events, but this one seems very sweet. Local author and artist Karima Cammell created a book called the Stumpers, about the doll family she fashioned, below.

She also owns A Castle in the Air, a crafting store, which will host a fireside chat with her, as well as musician Laura Cortesi, followed by live music and a book signing (they'll be giving away a gift with every book purchase). Hot cider will be provided too. Stop by if you're available! I can see how kids (and adults) would be enchanted with this Stumper world.

You can see more about it on this YouTube video.

When: Thursday, November 20 from 5:30-7:30
Where: Castle in the Air, 1805 4th Street, Berkeley

Coming Up: Cars and Croissants - Free

If you or your kids are car enthusiasts, you'll want to head to Santana Row once a month to check out their program, Cars and Croissants (and if you have an exotic car, bring it). This is a monthly gathering for exotic car owners and car enthusiasts where the exotic cars are invited to park and display them on Santana Row Boulevard from Alyssum Lane to Tatum Boulevard, and hang out with other enthusiasts. The morning meet-up for coffee, croissants and cars drew 400 people and 60 cars during the first event and continues to grow in popularity. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Fourth Saturday of the month: November 22 and December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Monday, November 17, 2014

Make your home more energy efficient - save money for the fun things

While people who don't live in the Bay Area think of it as a warmer place (hey! It's California!) those who live here know that winters (and even summers) can be quite cool. And many of the homes are inefficiently insulated. I remember when we were moving to the Bay Area and stayed in several friends' homes and a hotel, and we froze each time in spite of the heat being cranked up. It was not fun!

That forced us to do a little thinking about how to make our new home more energy efficient so we could not only try to save the environment, but have more money to do fun things. When I was approached about doing this post for PG&E, it was a no brainer, since I'm a big proponent of saving energy.

Here are a few things I've done or recommend:

Seal the doors and windows
Are your doors and windows leaking out your warm air? If you're not getting new ones (those single pane windows with aluminum frames are terrible), then make sure any gaps are sealed. You can use weather stripping or liquid foam, both of which are economical.