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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 4 craft ideas

Looking for some fun July 4 craft ideas?

Start your searches here:

Michael's has pages of crafts, including a windsock, napkin rings and banner.

Oriental Trading Company is often the first place I go for craft kits in large quantities. Not the highest quality, but not the highest prices either. Make sure to google "free shipping" to look for shipping deals. And their temporary tattoos are good quality, so if you want some patriotic ones, this is the place to shop. Just search for July 4 and you'll find plenty of crafts.

Family Fun Magazine (now spoonful) is always good for high quality crafts. Check out the star spangled wavers, decorations and games,  and recipes.

Jelly Belly Contest - There's Still Time

Want to win a bag of Jelly Bellies? Just enter the contest!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Focus Groups for Cat Owners

Own a cat and want to earn some money to pay for the food?

Fleishman Field Research is doing focus groups on July 6-8 (daytime and evening) in San Francisco, and paying $100.

If interested, you need to fill out this survey - you'll be contacted if you qualify or they want more information.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Coming Up: Fairy Tale Wonders at Gilroy Gardens - $10 discount

Until July 2, Gilroy Gardens has a fun event called Fairy Tale Wonders. Come for story time in the Monarch Garden or Claudia's Garden. Or older kids can star in a fairytale at the Lakeside Amphitheater.

Get $10 off each entry this summer (thanks to Bay Area on the Cheap for the link).

If you miss Fairy Tale Wonders, the park features the Enchanted Wings bird show July 13-August 16.

Day Trip: Jelly Belly Tour in Fairfileld

The Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield has been on my bucket list for a long time. I’m a sucker for factory tours, and this one is a biggie. I insisted we stop by on our way home from a trip up north, even though Mark would rather spend his time poking his eyeballs out with pins.

There’s a contest at the end to win Jelly Bellies, so make sure to read all the way through!

The executive summary: Eh. I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t horrible, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. If you plan to do the Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory tour, it's about 45 mintues away so you can do them the same day.
Even though we went in the summer, we didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes in line. We were shuffled in with maybe 50 others, and had to don factory hats (California factory law). Then they made you suffer further indignity by taking your pictures wearing said hat, and trying to sell it to you. We bypassed that line at the end, but it attracted quite a crowd. I always wondered who buys that crap, and now I know.

While waiting in line for the tour to start, the guide generously handed out ONE Jelly Belly each. Zack promptly dropped and stepped on his. Oops.

The bad news – no photography allowed in the factory tour. Bummer for me, but Mark was happy I had to put my camera down.

Our good fortune – the factory wasn’t producing any candy that day – they were closed for summer cleaning. So we got to see the factory floor, but the machines weren’t working. At the end of the tour, some of the packing facilities were operational, so we did see a conveyor belt full of colorful beans, and the quality assurance guy picking through tan ones to separate the good stuff from the Belly Flops (yes, this is what they call the rejects, which are sold at half price in a mix at the store - $9 for 2 pounds).

Amazingly, some of the boxes were being packed into bigger boxes by hand. And the sport beans (jelly beans with vitamins) were also packaged into boxes by hand. I'd figure they'd have machines for that type of thing.

There were videos at various stops to learn how the candy is made (the company actually makes 150 different candies, including candy corn, gummies and marshmallow Easter stuff). The tour guide did her canned speeches through a loud speaker (which was good because we were at the end).

A few interesting facts:

--They make 50 flavors of Jelly Bellies including some apparently flavored like mucous (how would they test that out?).

--Blueberry was introduced when Ronald Reagan became president, so they could have a red, white and blue mix. (You might recall that the Great Communicator was a big fan...and probably the company's favorite president, since he was responsible for upping their sales to a huge degree).
--It takes 7-21 days for a Jelly Belly to reach maturity.

--Their Belly Flops in the store came from their new Thailand factory. Go figure.

The videos were up high, but Zack and Dori had difficulty getting close enough to see (too many adults on the tour). The factory had some windows at their level to see the factory floor, but again, too few of them, and too many adults in the way.

Zack’s favorite part was seeing the crane that brought trays of Jelly Bellies to the machines that counted them out and sorted them. Dori’s favorite part was the sample bar at the gift shop.

While they have the Belly Flops in the factory store, there’s a smaller store (near the Jelly Belly CafĂ©) with sale items (like a bag of Valentine Jelly Bellies for $2). Head there for better deals (but less selection).

The real bummer is that we weren’t able to combine it with trip to the Anheuser-Busch factory tour, just a short distance away. Mark had happy memories of this tour from his bachelor party and thought the kids might enjoy a trip into his nostalgic past. Or maybe not.

Okay, the contest. To win a bag of Jelly Belly candy (one that they give out after you finish the tour), post with your guess for the three best-selling flavors of Jelly Bellies. The person who comes the closest wins (and if there’s a tie, I’ll pick a name from a hat from those who guess correctly).
Make sure to either put your email address on the posting, or email me ( with your email address and your guess (but you also have to post your guess to win). I'll only ship to a U.S. address. Contest ends July 1st.

The Jelly Belly Factory is open daily except major holidays. Check their website for more details, or call 1-800-9-JELLYBEAN

Saturday, June 27, 2009

King Tut coupon for the de Young exhibit

(Looking for NYC King Tut coupon codes, tickets and discounts? Click here) (Looking for a review of King Tut in NYC with kids? Click here)

The King is dead! Of course he has been for thousands of years, and now you can see his stuff.

I haven't yet gotten my tickets to the King Tut exhibit at the de Young, but plan to soon. Just found a coupon code for 20% off for Via readers. I'm sure you all read Via, Northern California's AAA (CSAA) member magazine, so I'll post the code here in case you missed it: TUTVIA

Purchase tickets here, at or call (877) 888-8587.

Hurry! The show only runs until March 28, 2010. (Okay, I'm joking about the hurry part, but apparently when it exhibited last in Philadelphia, the exhibit stayed open all night so everyone could get in to see it - it was a huge hit). Read the Mercury News story about the exhibit.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coming Up: San Francisco Theater Festival

130 performances in one afternoon? Sounds overwhelming. But fun! This Sunday, the San Francisco Theater Festival does just that at Yerba Buena Gardens.

Part of the festival includes a Children's Festival, with 30 performances (though details weren't on the website when I wrote this).

A few of the performances which could be fun for kids:

Wicked: some cast members perform starting at 1:00

Beach Blanket Babylon: who doesn't love those big hats? Just after Wicked, stay for a mini-BBB show.

Lamplighters Musical Theater: performs songs from My Fair Lady.

For more on the performances, click here. Each group performs for 15-30 minutes. Expect crowds - last year they drew more than 10,000 spectators.

Coming Up: Daddy Days at Stretch the Imagination

Let Dad take Junior for some bonding time this Sunday, June 28. Stretch the Imagination in Marin (Corte Madera) has a fun program this month.

Sunday, June 28
James K
- Sing, Dance, and Special Craft project with this popular Bay Area musician. He'll deliver tongue twisters and songs inspired by nature, wonder and childhood. James will lead Dads and children in a special craft project using found wooden materials. Don't worry - nothing too girly for Dad.

Where: Stretch the Imagination (47A Tamal Vista Blvd Marketplace Center)

When: Sunday 28 (9:30-10:30 a.m.)

Ages: kids 3-8 plus Dad (any age)

Cost: $15/kid per session

RSVP: (415) 927-2616

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coming Up: Disney's a Christmas Carol Train Tour

Christmas in July? Only if you're Disney. Join in for some free fun at Disney's a Christmas Carol Train Tour tomorrow (June 26) through Sunday, June 28.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to make the upcoming film, a Christmas Carol (one guess when it will be released). You can walk through several train cars with interactive exhibits. And there's a tent with movie previews in 3-D.

When: June 26-29; 9:00-4:00
Where: Oakland Middle Harbor (2777 Middle Harbor Road)
Cost: FREE

Coming Up: SF Zoo Little People Live - Zoo's 80th Anniversary

Ah, the Little People. It used to be a derogatory term, but now it's a line of plastic toys from Fisher Price. Just thinking about the Little People reminds me of the Little People promo CD we got at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival a few years ago. The kids made us play it over and over again. Luckily they don't any more. Now they want Madonna and Green Day.

So you won't be finding us at this zoo event, though it would be fun the younger set. Announcing the Little People LIVE! I'm wondering if people are going to dress up as the Little People (and then be Big People dressed as Little People) or if the little figures will dance on stage and no one will see them except in the front row. I guess you'll have to go and find out (and post later to tell me).

So if you go, it's supposed to be a family, fun musical featuring songs and animals (plastic or real?), plus take-home crafts. Celebrate the zoo's 80th anniversary, not by visiting the tiger enclosure and wondering whether $900,000 paid to the taunters was too much or too little, but by seeing baby animals, and by taking a historical walking tour of the zoo. Plus there are special 80th discounts on food and rides (wouldn't it be nice if they were all at 1920s prices).

When: June 27 & 28th
Where: SF Zoo

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Upcoming Focus Groups

For those looking to earn some easy cash, check out Plaza Research's upcoming focus groups.

Requirements: Males and females ages 18 and up
Incentive: $85.00-$100.00
If you are interested in the GAMING ACTIVITIES study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Requirements: Males and females ages 18-65 who have purchased a laptop recently or will intend to purchase a laptop soon
Incentive: $85.00-$100.00 If you are interested in the LAPTOPS study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Coming Up: Ryan Phua Memorial Kids' Ride

Get the kids' bikes and trikes out for the 6th annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kids' Ride, which I've heard is a lot of fun. The story behind the ride is sad (i.e. 2 year old dies of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood), but out of sadness came a fundraiser for local Bay Area cancer survivorship programs and an event that brings community the together .

Three categories of peddlers ranging from ages under 4, to 9-12. Ha - can you guess the third category? Kid riders will do a hundred meters to a few laps, and win medals, ribbons and ice cream. And after the big finish: entertainment!

Even if you never met Ryan (I didn't), you can still celebrate the boy's spirit and help raise funds for a good cause. For more on Ryan's Ride, click here.

When: Sunday, June 28 - register by 9:30 a.m.
Where: downtown Burlingame (check in at Stacks Restaruant at Lorton/California)
Cost: Free, though it is a fundraiser, so contribute or raise $$ if you're so moved.
Preregister: by Thursday, June 25 or register onsite

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Easy Race Car Track Boys’ Birthday Cake

This was our third year with a car themed birthday cake. The first year, I made a Cars movie cake. The second year, a race car track made of cupcakes (it's at the bottom of the post). This year? An actual race track.

Was it hard? Not really. But it took a few hours and made my husband think I should get a job. Not decorating cakes mind you, but a job that makes me think about things other than cake.

I started with 4 cake mixes in a roasting pan. Yes, a roasting pan. Second time I’ve tried it – both times successful. We used both yellow and chocolate cake mixes – it turns out they don’t blend if you don’t mix them together!

After baking, I had to shave off the top to flatten it. I used that part as the bottom (easier to frost), and the cake “scraps” (plus ice cream) were dessert.

I frosted the cake with store-bought chocolate frosting, and made a “six” outline with a toothpick on top, before outlining it for real with frosting. Unfortunately the white frosting (from an aerosol can) was a little thick, even with the thin tip.

For grass I used green sugar sprinkles (from the baking section), though I considered using coconut and food coloring (put them in a Ziploc bag and shake). But I knew that coconut wouldn’t fly with my kids, and I didn’t want any complaints. I wanted to use green jimmies, but couldn’t find any. And I was not about to dye the vanilla frosting green – too much work to frost. If you have the time and are a perfectionist, you can use fancy tips and make individual green dots for the grass.

The flags added an extra zing – I found a pattern online (just google “race car flag”) and printed it onto paper, taping the flags onto toothpicks.

And as for cars: many options. I went with little cars from Target’s party section (4 to a container in the goody bag filler area). If you can find chocolate cars wrapped with foil, that would be even better. Specialty candy stores carry those. Dori’s idea was to have a race car crash, so we added one car upside down, and one car on its side. That was a hit!

Like this? Follow me on Twitter. I'm @FriscoKids.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Coming Up: Free TCBY for Dad on Father's Day

Okay, so you have to pay for your own, but Dad gets a free cup or cone of TCBY on Father's Day. Not sure how he'd prove he's a dad (birth certificate?) but hopefully the good employees of TCBY will take his word.

Find a TCBY near you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Coming Up: Vertical Challenge Helicopter Air Show at Hiller

Check out Hiller Aviation Museum's Vertical Challenge Helicopter Air Show this weekend! The show includes military and civilian demos, go fast jet packs, airship ventures Zeppelin and Red Bull Aerobatic helicopter.

When: Saturday, June 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (air shows are at 11:30-12:30 and 2-3)
Where: Hiller Aviation Museum (601 Skyway Road, San Carlos)
Cost: $17/adults, $10 youth (5-17) and seniors.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coming Up: Super-Duper Mini Chefs at Stanford Shopping Center

Stanford Shopping Center's Kidgits program has a fun event this Saturday. Fun with Food! And it's always more fun when it's not in your own kitchen. Kids get a free kids' chef set during the event. It's also a food drive, so bring some cans with you to donate.

When: Saturday, June 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Stanford Shopping Center, Center Pavilion (El Camino Real/Sand Hill Rd, Palo Alto)
Cost: Free

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coming Up: Northern California Pirate Festival

Ahoy, matey. Shiver me timbers!

Take Dad this Father's Day to the Northern California Pirate Festival in Vallejo, where you can enjoy some Pirate Booty (I think you need to bring your own bag of it though).

Watch as pirate entertainers, musicians, swordfighters, crafts people, and more turn Vallejo's waterfront into a Pirate Town. Ship-to-shore cannon battles, costume contests, children's acts, treasure hunts, magic shows...And you can take the ferry there!

When: June 20-21 (Saturday and Sunday) 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (til 6 on Sunday)

Where: Vallejo waterfront - by the ferry

Cost: FREE

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What to do for Father's Day in the Bay Area?

Trying to figure out what to do for Father’s Day in the Bay Area? Here are a few ideas:

(If you're looking for San Francisco Bay Area Father's Day 2010 ideas, click here)

1. Arrrghh…Take Dad to the Northern California Pirate Festival in Vallejo. It’s free, and has tons of entertainment for kids and adults.

2. What dad wouldn’t want to see a live performance of Alice in Wonderland? Especially if his little girl wants to take him. The Evergreen Valley Performing Arts Center is staging this family-friendly with 100 ballet dancers, with shows at 3 and 7 p.m in San Jose.

3. If you like dance, get tickets for the Ethnic Dance Festival in San Francisco. Father’s Day shows are at 2:00 at the Palace of Fine Arts.

4. If Dad likes music, head to the 3rd Annual King of the County BBQ Challenge & Music Festival in Martinez Marina Waterfront Park from 11am-6pm.

5. Go to a national park for free, like Yosemite! Father’s Day weekend is one of three free weekends for more than 100 national parks, including a handful in California.

6. Take Dad out to the ballgame. The SF Giants play the Texas Rangers at 1:05 in San Francisco. It’s Strike Out Cancer day at the ballgame, sponsored by Genentech. The first 15,000 fans get a Giants’ necktie. There’s an odd promotion for Genentech/cancer prevention.

7. Go to Great America – at kids’ prices! Every Sunday in June, Great America lets in all guests at kids’ prices: $35.99 each. Plus there’s a chili cook-off and car show. Get your tickets online for the discounted price.

8. Go biking at the SF Zoo! Join a morning bike-about, followed by continental breakfast. $25 for members ($30 for nomembers), plus $7 per kid riding on a parent's bike. 8:30-11 a.m. RSVP needed.

9. Top it off with frozen yogurt. TCBY is offering dads a free cone or cup of frozen yogurt on Father’s Day.

Like this? Follow me on Twitter. I'm @FriscoKids

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Craft Day: Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Can you say sweet and salty? Yum! Chocolate covered pretzels are easy and fun, and the kids can get in on the act too.
Start off with the chocolate: use chips or the big chunks (Trader Joe’s works well).
You can microwave it until it’s liquid, but I’m always afraid I’ll overcook it.
I make my own double boiler by putting water in a pot, and a glass bowl on top, that traps in the water below. Boil the water, and it will slowly melt the chocolate as you stir it. The water shouldn’t reach up to the bowl, by the way.

Get pretzel rods and either dip them in, or drizzle them with chocolate over the bowl.

Then decorate! We used sprinkles, but you could use chopped candy cane, nuts, shredded coconut…you get the picture.
We put the sprinkles in a bread pan to roll them in the sprinkles. We ended up with smeared chocolate and sprinkles at the bottom. Better idea: sprinkle the items on the chocolate as you rotate the pretzel. Then reuse the sprinkles that didn’t stick.
We cooled them on wax paper for a few hours, but you can stick them in the refrigerator for a faster chill. They make great teacher gifts (wrapped up in a clear goody bag with ribbon), and yummy snacks.

And you can do the same for some fun chocolate-dipped ice cream cones.

Like this? Follow me on Twitter! I'm @FriscoKids

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coming Up: San Francisco Folk Festival - Free

Thanks to Cynthia for telling me about this one! From Balkin to Bollywood, check out the San Francisco Folk Festival this weekend. Acts include "Making Music From Junk," and "French Music Jam," plus family events like "Princess and the Pirate" and "Singing Puppets Fun for All."

When: June 13-14, noon to 10 p.m.
Where: Presidio Middle School (450 30th Avenue, at Geary)
Cost: Free (parking is $8)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Download Dan Zanes' Catch that Train CD for $1.99 this Saturday

Here's a deal for all you Dan Zanes lovers! Saturday, June 13, you can download Dan Zanes' CD Catch that Train for only $1.99 on Amazon via their MP3 store.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bone Marrow Drives this Weekend in Berkeley and San Mateo

Two bone marrow drives this weekend. Please stop by if you can!

The first is for Yara Totah, a 22 year old student at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma last year. Her family is sponsoring a bone marrow drive:

Saturday June 13th at San Mateo's Central Park 10am-4pm.

The other is for Jon Galinson, a dad of two in Berkeley. He was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) last year. He has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past seven months. Jon’s best hope for a cure is a stem cell transplant, and his family is searching for a match for him.

Sunday, June 14, from 1:00pm – 6pm at Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Avenue, Berkeley.

All you have to do is fill out a form and get your cheek swabbed with a Q-tip. Easy!

If you can't make the drives, please join the Be the Match Registry of the National Marrow Donor Program. You can read more about it at: If you live out of town or can't make it to one of the above events, you can join via the online drive at When asked to provide a promo code, please type in JonGalinson.

Coming Up: Drop-in Family Craft Day at SCRAP

When: June 13 from 1-4
Where: SCRAP (801 Toland Street, SF)
What: Do-it-yourself Summer Survival Kits with artist Ruth Oprean Cardillo
Cost: Free for instruction (cost for materials)
Register: or call 415-647-1746.

According to SCRAP, "this day is designed for families to have an afternoon outing and creative time together. Ruth will have project samples on display, along with instructions and take-home bags. Then you and your child can experience the thrill of a treasure hunt as you shop for the materials on the SCRAP floor. Bring your finds back to the workshop and organize them in your own kit to take home."

1) Make your own board game
2) Summer-themed diorama
3) Surprise greeting cards

SCRAP is a great resource for projects and teachers, with tons of recycled and reused materials on hand to spur on creative ideas!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Free National Parks weekend - Father's Day

Get outdoors this Father's Day weekend on a fee-free trip to a National Park in our home state. A few of the parks included in the fee-free weekend are Yosemite, Lava Beds, Sequoia, Lassen, Death Valley & Joshua Tree. Special activites are planned at many of the parks too.

We're taking advantage of one of the weekends (though to be fair, we already had our trip planned, so the free entry is just a bonus). Where are we going? Enter your guess in the comments section by June 17. The winner guessing it correctly gets 2 coupons for a free bowl of soup at San Francisco Soup Company. (If there are multiple winners, I'll randomly draw your name from a hat). Leave me your email address too, so I contact you if you win (or email it to me at

Two other fee-free National Parks weekends are planned this summer:
July 18-19
August 15-16

Monday, June 8, 2009

Focus Group with your friends - $200

Plaza Research is recruiting for a focus group with 4 female friends. Get paid to chat together - awesome!

Requirements: Females ages 25-44
Incentive: Host-$200.00; Friends-$125.00

If you are interested in the FOOD study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

25 Fun Things to Do in Bay Area This Summer

Stuck for ideas on what to do with the kids this summer? Here are 25 ideas.

1. Do you like the cartoon Peanuts? Then visit “Schultz’s Beethoven, Schroeder’s Muse” exhibit at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, at SJSU. Admission is free, and goes through July 31st.

2. Visit the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Get discounted ride wristbands at Costco. Kiddie rides to scary roller coasters – you won’t get bored. Bring plenty of water and munch your way through their ice cream stands and boardwalk fare. Lots of special events, from concerts to beach soccer games and more. The boardwalk is free, so even if you don’t want to ride the coaster it’s a fun day.

3. On the way home, visit Marianne’s ice cream – a huge assortment of exotic flavors. It’s at 1020 Ocean Street.

4. Ride the rails at Roaring Camp in Felton. Even better, ride the rails from Roaring Camp to the boardwalk.

5. Hike in a county or state park - before our governator shuts them down.

6. Go berry picking. My favorite is Webb Ranch in Portola Valley, but find many more sites here.

7. Go tidepooling at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

8. Visit a museum. Try one you haven’t yet been to, whether it’s the California Academy of Sciences, Randall Museum, San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum, Bay Area Children’s Discovery Museum, Habitot or others.

9. Go bowling – for free! Register your kids for 2 free games a day through mid-September.

10. Go ice skating.

11. Go on a day trip to Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory

12. Get wet. Try the new Aqua Adventure water park in Fremont, or Newark’s Silliman Aquatic Center. Or try a city park with water features like Palo Alto's Mitchell Park, Redwood City's Stafford Park or Stulsaft Park.

13. Get cultured! See the King Tut exhibit at the de Young.

14. Make ice cream!

15. Make rock candy - it will take more than a few days!

16. Check out a new park, like Magic Mountain Playground at Coyote Point. Or ride the train at Tilden Park in Berkeley.

17. Join your local library’s reading program and see how many books you can read together this summer. It's free!

18. Go to the zoo.

19. Watch a children’s theater production, like the Children’s Theater in the Park in Mountain View. or Hillbarn Theater in Foster City.

20. Check out the farmer’s market. The San Carlos one on Thursday afternoons features free music.

21. Almost every city has a free outdoor concert series. I'll post a link soon.

22. Browse the stores in Japantown in San Francisco. The kids will love the window shopping, waterfall, treats (try the crepes) and Pika Pika photo booths.

23. Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. There's no toll for you to get back into the city if you're on foot!

24. Try some new foods, like yummy waffle fish called Taiyaki.

25. Eat your way through the SF Ferry Building. Taylor's Refesher has kid-friendly fare. And the building's Farmer's Markets are on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

What should be added to this list? Please leave a comment with your ideas!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program - Free Books!

Encourage the kids to read this summer, and Barnes and Noble will give them a free book. Kids choose 8 books of their own and use B&N's summer reading journal to tell their favorite part of the book. Bring the completed journal to B&N by September 7th, and choose a free book from their list. This is aimed at kids grades 1-6.

Thanks to Julie E. at CityMommy for the tip!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bone Marrow Drives Sunday June 7 & 14

I'm posting about another bone marrow drive, to encourage you to sign up if you're not already on the registry. This is the third drive I've posted in the past few months, and it makes me sad that these wonderful people are ill, but hopeful that it will help.

This drive is for Jon Galinson (though it helps ALL who need a transplant because you never know who you'll match).

Jon was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) last year. He has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past seven months. Jon’s best hope for a cure is a stem cell transplant, and his family is searching for a match for him.

Please join the Be the Match Registry of the National Marrow Donor Program as soon as possible. The process to join is very simple and involves a medical questionnaire and a cheek swab. You can read more about it at:

Jon's family is sponsoring two marrow drives (in San Francisco and Berkeley) but you can also register online (info below).

Sunday, June 7, from 11am – 5pm at the booth at Israel in the Gardens.

Sunday, June 14, from 1:00pm – 6pm at Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Avenue, Berkeley.

If you live out of town or can't make it to one of the above events, you can join via the online drive at When asked to provide a promo code, please type in JonGalinson.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coming Up: Israel in the Gardens in San Francisco

This family-friendly event is a great time! Join up to 20,000 people to celebrate Israel's culture and heritage at Israel in the Gardens at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Free crafts, music and booths, plus food for sale and arts to browse. If it's like last year, there will be gorgeous warm weather as well.

The party is from 11 to 5. Take public transit so you don't have to deal with parking!

Coming Up: Sunset Celebration Weekend June 6-7

If you love Sunset Magazine, you shouldn't miss their Celebration Weekend. When do you have a chance to walk around beautiful grounds that serve as inspiration, testing, and production for the magazine (by production I mean kitchens as well as gardens).

This massive party/street fair is more upscale than most. Not the most kid-friendly place, but if you need to bring them along, there is usually something for them to do.

First - expect crowds. Huge crowds. And lines. If you're claustrophobic, don't go.

A few highlights:
-Featured Acts: that would be the chefs, garden gurus, home/design experts, entertainers and musicians. As in 14 celebrity chefs doing cooking demonstrations.
-The Sunset Modern Cottage - each year the celebration features a Sunset-designed (or at least commissioned) house. Long lines to get in.
-Wine Seminars - oh boy - get a babysitter!
-Event Sponsors and Community Booths - Sounds boring, but this is where the freebies are! Lots of samples. Bring a bag! And a wallet - in case you want to buy something from any of the 120 exhibitors.

In the past, the Celebration Weekend also had several free crafts to do (again, long lines). I didn't see that on the website, but I'm guessing they'll have that again. When I went there was lei-making and flower pot decorating. My kid-in-a-stroller didn't let me do anything, but now that the kids are older...

When: June 6-7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Sunset Magazine Headquarters (80 Willow Road - though you won't park there). Click the Sunset link for directions.
Cost: $15/adults, free for kids 12 and under

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bay Area Birthday Party Locations - Updated!

One of the most popular pages on my blog (for search engines) is on Bay Area birthday party locations. I just updated the page with additional ideas for fun party sites.

Where are your favorite places to host a birthday party? Please share your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

PJ Library - Free Jewish book of the month

If your or someone you know in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, or Sonoma counties are raising young Jewish kids, you need to sign them up for PJ Library. This is a free book-of-the month club, where the child (ages 6 months to 7) will receive an age-appropriate Jewish book each month for a year.

I signed up Zachary and we’ve gotten three so far. One was a book we already had (we donated it to a Jewish preschool) but so far the others we hadn’t seen before and we’ve had fun reading them.

Who pays for this? The Jewish Community Federation and the Jim Joseph Foundation.

By the way, you can check the website for other communities that participate in this program, or pay for a subscription as well.

Sign up at or call 415-499-1223.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Craft Day: Chocolate Ice Cream

Ever since Mark bought me a Krups ice cream maker, he’s regretted it. I have a great time trying new ice cream recipes but he doesn’t much like eating it. He loves ice cream, mind you. He just doesn’t love MY ice cream.
This is why I was excited when Zack came up with the idea of making chocolate ice cream. His request came at a very busy time for us, and it was repeated several times throughout the week. So I went online to look for a recipe, since my recipe stash contained fancy ingredients like one pound of Guittard chocolate. I knew my McDonald’s loving son wouldn’t appreciate that.

I found a recipe calling for one gallon of chocolate milk, one Cool-Whip container and one can of evaporated milk (I think it was 13 oz). Then I flipped to the next recipe, since there was no way it could be that easy. But I thought better of my high standards and decided it was perfect. After all, how bad can chocolate milk, Cool-Whip and evaporated milk taste?

It wasn't difficult – pour ingredients into a bowl and mix, then pour into machine. Even Zack could do it. Of course I didn’t realize that my small ice cream maker would only handle half a gallon, so I had to make two batches. The ice cream maker didn't do a great job at freezing it during the first batch (but the actual freezer worked just fine).

The first batch was plain chocolate, and the next batch I added nuts, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows to make rocky road. It was a hit (but Mark still didn’t like it).