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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Coming Up: Bank of America - Free Museum Entrance

This weekend (December 3-4) is Bank of America's monthly Museums on Us. With your B of A card, you can get one free entrance to the Chabot Space and Science Center, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, the Museum of African Diaspora, and the Children's Creativity Museum (aka Zeum). You may still need to pay for your kids (and tell your partner to bring his/her card to get in free as well). Of note, the CJM offers free entrance to kids anyway.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Win $500 in hotel/lodging credit

Thought I'd pass along this contest where you can win $500 in enrout lodging credit. The website offers lodging choices ranging from hotels to B&Bs, to condos/private residences (many are hugely discounted). The contest runs through December 18th. I just entered.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Post: Funky Hotel Lodging

This is a guest post from HostelBookers, highlighting some funky hotel lodging around the world. Even if you're not leaving the U.S. anytime soon, it's fun to dream!

If you are tired of family holidays to run-of-the-mill hotel chains there are a number of ways you can give your holiday the edge but still get a bargain.

Try bunking down in a cave as the Turkish nomads once did, get out on the water with a floating hotel or climb to the forest canopy to sleep in a treehouse. Now where is that adventurous spirit of yours?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Girls' Night Out: Craft Bar with ETSY Labs

This sounds like fun. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art’s upcoming Craft Bar with Etsy Labs.  
It's time for winter gift-giving: 

--create a penguin Woolbuddy with MOCFA favorite (and CRAFT BAR veteran) Jackie Huang
--make a unique holiday card with Bay Area printmaker Rigel Stuhmiller to go with it! 

Where: Museum of Craft and Folk Art, 51 Yerba Buena Lane (SF)
When: Thursday December 1 from 6 - 8 pm 
Cost: $10 - includes admission, tips and drinks (if you bring your own wool roving and stationary paper, it's only $5). Free drinks from Trumer Pils.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bay Area Holiday Events 2011

What: Winter Concert (Swing Noel)
Where/When: December 10 (St. Dominic's Catholic Church, SF)
Where/When: December 17 (Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland)
Cost: $20 requested donation
(Can't make it out? Listen to the concert on KQED channel 9 on December 19th (7:30pm) or December 20th (1:30am) for their annual Holiday Concert Broadcast)


What: Create hand-made gifts (roll bees-wax candles, make scented soaps, build wooden train, create candy 

house and more). Plus there's a Sweet Can Circus show.

Where/When: Randall Museum, December 3, from 10-2 for crafts, 2:00 for circus show

Cost: Varies per activity; circus show is $3


Serramonte Center in Daly City has many activities coming up (free except for photo purchase):

-Santa's Arrival on Friday, November 18 at 5:30 (musical show, crafts)

-Photos with Santa from Friday, November 18-Saturday December 24

-Pet photos with Santa Monday, December 5 and December 12 at 6 p.m.

-Kids Club Holiday Pajama Party on Tuesday, December 13 at 5:30 p.m.


What: Holiday Music Program (Steel Pan Trio, mariachi band, swing band)
When: Saturdays - November 25 from 2-4 p.m. and December 17 from 2-4
Where:  Bay Street, off I-80 at Powell Street and Shellmount Ave, Emeryville
Cost: Free

What: Holiday vignettes designed by toy curator Dolph Gotelli (19-20th century collection of Christmas toys, games, decorations and Victorian ornaments
When: November 19-January 31
Where: Napa Valley Museum
Cost: $2.50-$10

What: Yountville's Festival of Lights (holiday street fair, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, performances, Santa Claus)
When: Friday, November 25 - from 2-6
Cost: Free (tasting tickets are $1)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Coming Up: Great Dickens Christmas Fair

The 2011 Dickens Fair opens Friday, November 25, running weekends through December 18th. Since 1970, this fair has been part of the Bay Area holiday culture.What to expect:  "The bustling streets of London, immortalized for all time by the mighty pen of Charles Dickens, form the living backdrop of your excursion into Christmas Past. You are a living part of a Victorian Christmas card come to life!"

Explore London's Christmas shops, festive drinks (hot toddies, ale, champagne), six stages of entertainment, British (and other) foods, tea house with cucumber sandwiches, Christmas flowers, and lots of kids' activities too.

Discounts: Get a $3/adult ticket discount on the website through December 5th, $2/kid ticket discount all season. Bring a toy for Toys for Tots and get $2 off.

Tickets: Tickets are $25 for adults (plus $1 convenience fee online), $12 for kids (no convenience fee online). Kids under 5 are free. Parking at Cow Palace is $10. I hope I got the pricing correct - the website was a little confusing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Coming Up: Holiday Tea to Benefit Child Abuse Prevention

While you're doing some holiday celebrating, here's an option to do some good as well. The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center Auxiliary is having its second annual Winter Wonderland Tea, and you're invited. Kids will be treated to face painting, activities and "costumed friends." Proceeds benefit the prevention of child abuse and promoting healthy kids and families

Where: Alexandra's on the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis (Union Square)
When: Sunday, Novmber 27 from 1-3
Bring: a new, unwrapped gift for the center's toy drive
Cost: $75/adult, $35/kid (14 and under)
RSVP and more info: here

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Outdoor Ice Skating in the SF Bay Area 2011

Embarcadero Ice Rink - Justin Herman Plaza
(adjacent to Four Embarcadero Center and across from the historic Ferry Building)
Dates: Now through January 8, 2012
Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday – Thursday
10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday
See website for which sessions are closed for private parties.
Session: 90 minute sessions starting on every even hour
Information: (415) 837-1931 or its website
Cost: $9/adults, $5.50/seniors/children ages 10 and under
Monday – Friday until 6:00 p.m. (50 cents more at other times)
Skate rental: $3.50
Discounts: group rates available
Birthday parties: $250, includes admission and skate rental for up to ten people, a decorated party area, birthday cake and soft drinks. Skating guests in excess of ten will be charged an additional $12.50 each.

Union Square Ice Rink 
Union Square, downtown San Francisco
Dates: now through January 16, 2011
Hours: 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. daily. 90 minute sessions starting on the even hour
Information: (415) 781-2688 and its website
Cost: $10/adults, $6/children ages 8 and under
Discounts: for groups
Skate rental: $5
Buy in advanceonline

Holiday Skating on the Square - Redwood City
Courthouse Square, downtown Redwood City
Dates: November 18, 2011 through January 16, 2012
Hours: vary - check website. Sessions are 90 minutes, starting on every even hour
Cost: $10 weekday, $12 weekends
Discounts: for groups
Skate rental: included
Different: uses synthetic ice!

San Jose Downtown Skating 
Downtown San Jose: 120 Market Street
Dates: now through January 29, 2012
Hours: vary – check the website
Session: no set session –skate all you want, though no in/out privileges
Information: (408) 279-1775 and its website
Cost: $15/ age 11+; $13/ages 10 and under
Discountsthe website lists several.
Skate rental: included in admission

Tiburon Holiday Festival Skating
Downtown Tiburon
Date: Friday, December 11, 2011
Hours: 5:30 p.m.
Information: (415) 435-5633 and its website
Cost: $10/person
Skate rental: $5
Buy in advanceonline ( but it costs $25/person for 30 minutes, including skate rental

find Frisco Kids on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Train Exhibits in the Bay Area

Trains, trains, trains! With the holidays coming up, train exhibits and rides abound. Here's where to get your train fix in the Bay Area this holiday season.

WhatRide small-scale locomotives on “tracks” throughout the museum. Help decorate a giant train sculpture, make your own conductor’s hats, create railroad-track patterned pictures, and paint with wheels in the Art Studio.
Where: Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley
When: November 28 to December 3
Ages: 1-6
Cost: Free with admission

What:  Playland at the Conservatory - celebrating the legendary Playland at the Beach and a bygone era of seaside amusement from San Francisco's West End. Landscaped with hundreds of dwarf plants, model trains and trolleys wend their way past the famed Sutro Baths, a replica of the Victorian-era Cliff House and whiz through a fantastic mini version of San Francisco's beloved Playland at the Beach. You'll see attractions including the Big Dipper, Diving Bell, Fun House, Airplane Ride and more all creatively crafted from recycled and repurposed materials while the sounds of the arcade and even Laffing Sal's boisterous voice. 
When: November 18, 2011 to April 15, 2012
Where: Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park
Ages: all 
Cost: Free with admission

What: The Niles Canyon (East Bay) Train of Lights is an hour-long, 13 mile round-trip.
When: Friday, November 25th through December 29th. 
WhereChoose a Sunol or Niles Canyon departure.
Ages: all
Cost: $25 for general seating (a few select dates are $15). Kids 3+ need a ticket. It's a fundraiser, which explains the cost of the tickets.

What:  Ring in the holiday season at Roaring Camp’s Holiday Tree Walk. Passengers riding the steam train will delight in the tree-lined walk of festive holiday trees displayed atop Bear Mountain. Sponsored by Patchen California Christmas Tree Farm. Guests may sip hot cider and view beautifully adorned trees decorated by area businesses and organizations as they raise funds for their respective organizations. Story-telling for children in the General Store Annex
When: November 25-27, December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 (daytime - various times)
Where: Roaring Camp, Felton (near Santa Cruz)
Ages: all
Cost: $17-18 for kids ages 2-12, $24-26 for adults 13+

WhatRide vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, as they roll through city streets past homes of Santa Cruz. Sing along to seasonal carols while sipping hot-spiced cider, listen to musical entertainment, and enjoy a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Continue the merriment at Santa’s Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Choice of one activity: “Holiday” miniature golf, laser tag, or arcade games, is included with Holiday Lights Train ticket price. Advance reservations recommended.
When: November 26, December 3-4, 10-12, 17-23 (various times)
Ages: all
Cost$17-18 for kids ages 2-12, $24-26 for adults 13+

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coming Up: Plant some Fruit Trees

You and the kids are invited to attend the Fruit Tree 101 project, where you can help plant 60 lush fruit trees and shrubs (some up to 7 feet tall), while learning about fruit, healthy eating and the environment. It's sponsored by the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Stretch Island Fruit Company.

When: November 18 at 9:30 and 11:30
Where: SF - Robert L. Stevenson Elementary School (2051 34th Avenue - outer Sunset) at 9:30, and June Jordan School for Equity (325 La Grande Avenue - Visitacion Valley) at 11:30.
Cost: Free
RSVP: Not needed

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coming Up: Progressive International Motorcycle Show

If your kids (or you) are infatuated with motorcycles and other moving vehicles, take them this weekend to the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. With hundreds of two and three-wheeled dirt bikes, scooters, dual sport bikes, etc.

It's not just look-and-see. The show features interactive family activities and shows as well (2-3 a day). Plus you can sit on hundreds of the bikes.

When: November 18-20
Where: San Mateo County Event Center (2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo)
Tickets: available online at or onsite. Save $2 using promo code SAVES2 online.
Cost: Adults: $13-15, Kids Free-$6

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coming Up: San Francisco Symphony Holiday Concerts 2011

It's that time of year again - great holiday music! The San Francisco Symphony has plenty of family-friendly concerts. And kids ticket (17 and under) are half price. Here's the schedule:

*      Best Time of Year: A Christmas Special performed by the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus 11/30 & 12/1
*      The Snowman animated film and sing-along with the San Francisco Symphony 12/2 & 12/3
*      Deck the Hall children’s holiday concert and party* 12/4
*      Peter and the Wolf with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra 12/10 & 12/11
*      Handel’s Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Chorus 12/16-12/18
*      Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jóse Hernández 12/18
*      ‘Twas the Night carols and sing-alongs with members of the San Francisco Symphony Brass Section and members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus 12/22-12/24
*half price tickets not available for this show

Get tickets for all San Francisco Symphony holiday concerts at, by phone at (415) 864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post: Cooking S'Mores in Parchment - Brette Sember

Today we're bringing you a guest post from Brette Sember, author of the just-published Parchment Paper Cookbook. We asked her to write about cooking with kids. Here's what she said:

I’ve always said that if you cooked with your mom (or grandma) as a kid then you are much more likely to not only know how to cook as an adult, but to enjoy cooking. My kids (19 and 13) have always been present in my kitchen, as I was in my mom’s and grandmas’. Cooking is something that brings you closer. Somehow it’s so much easier to get your kids talking while they’re working with their hands than it is to sit them down and ply them with questions.

Parchment paper cooking is perfect for kids because it’s very hands on and is simple, healthy, and minimizes any clean up! All the food is cooked in one parchment paper packet, sealing in flavor and nutrients, while reducing the amount of fat needed to cook. And the best part is, there are no pots and pans to scrub when you’re done. Cooking in parchment is like stacking blocks. You just keep adding the ingredients on top of each other, then you seal up the packet (see instructions here) and bake in the oven.

This recipe for S’mores, made in parchment paper is perfect for a little taste of campfire fun during the long winter months. It’s so easy, even the youngest of kids can put it together.

1 crepe (I find these pre-made in my produce section)
½ of a standard candy aisle 1.55 oz milk chocolate candy bar, broken into pieces
¼ cup mini marshmallows
¼ of a graham cracker, crumbled (either by hand, or let your kids put it in a ziptop bag and pound on it)

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Place the crepe on the parchment. Line up the chocolate along one side. Add the marshmallows and graham crackers crumbs. Roll up the crepe. Fold the parchment. Bake for 5 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Brette Sember is the author of The Parchment Paper Cookbook, published by Adams Media. She blogs about parchment paper cooking at She also writes the popular food blog She is also the author of the upcoming titles The Organized Kitchen and The Muffin Tin Cook Book from Adams Media. Sember is a former attorney and author of more than 35 other books, including How toParent with Your Ex, The Complete Credit Repair Kit, The Divorce Organizer& Planner, and The Complete Divorce Handbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, two children, and two golden retrievers. Her web site is and you can follow her on Twitter @brettesember.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coming Up: Lowes Build a Science Lab

Build a free science lab kit at Lowes Build and Grow Clinic on Saturday, November 12 at 10 a.m. Sign up here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coming Up: Lemony Snicket and Chris Van Allsburg - Free

The San Francisco Library is a presenting a free youth services program - two fabulous children's authors will be interviewed on stage. Lemony Snicket you will know from the Series of Unfortunate Events (among many others) and Chris Van Allsburg, best known for Polar Express. They'll be interviewed by author Mac Barnett about the new release: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales. It's written by Van Allsburg (plus others, like favorite Louis Sachar, Steven King, Jules Feiffer, and introduced by Snicket).

When: Saturday, November 12 from 2-4
Where: Koret Auditorium, Main Library, lower level
Cost: Free

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Coming Up: Free Thanksgiving Cooking Class (and Meal)

This looks like a fun cooking class and free lunch too! You have to RSVP (space is limited) so if interested, grab a friend and RSVP for both of you. 

It's sponsored by Jenn-Air. They're offering it for free ($65 value).  Chef 
Rachelle will do a whole Thanksgiving meal, that you'll get to eat! There are classes in San Jose and San Rafael. Here's the menu:

Turkey Two Ways: Convection Roasted Traditional & Butterflied Turkey with Orange Sage Dry Rub, 


Pecan Herb Stuffing

Butternut Squash and Herb Crumble

Celery Root and Apple Puree

Farmer’s Market Vegetables

Pumpkin Cookies

When: Saturday, November 12 from 11-2
Where: Standards of Excellence San Jose Showroom (1720 Ringwood Avenue)
RSVP: Mandatory. Call 408-907-3800 or email

When: Saturday, November 19 from 12-3
Where: Standards of Excellence, 530 West Francisco Blvd., San Rafael
RSVP: mandatory (limited to 25 guests). Call 415-453-6070 or email

They said the cooking techniques apply to any appliance, and their goal is to show off the showroom so you'll want to come back in the future.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Coming Up: Gingerbread Building Activities

It's not yet Thanksgiving, but it's almost time to start planning out Gingerbread House making. Here's a head start.


One of my favorite Bay Area kid museums has their gingerbread fun coming up in November and December. If you dream of candy canes, gumdrops, frosting and other treats on top of a gingerbread masterpiece, now’s your time to signup.

Pre-registration is a must – they sell out. If space is available that day, they take walk-ins first come, first served.

Open registration: November 3
WhatGingerbread Architecture Extravaganza at Bay Area Discovery Museum 
Where: BADM, Sausalito (Fort Baker)
When: Weekends: November 26-27, December 3-4, December 10-11, December 17-18 at 10:30, 11:30 or 12:30.
Weekdays: December 19-23 at 9:30, 10:30 or 11:30
Times: 11 a.m., noon & 1 p.mCost $25 per gingerbread kit
Cost: $30 per gingerbread kit per member, $40 for nonmembers. That includes museum admissions for one adult and one child.

Gingerbread Builders sells Gingerbread supplies. Make one on site (and you don't have to clean up), or they can make one for you. I already knew about the Mill Valley site (Strawberry Village), but one is now opening in San Francisco as well (November 15- Union Street @ Octavia). Houses start at $29 including icing and some candy. You can buy additional candy as well. Go with your kids, or make it a party.

Visit the Garden Railway exhibit, then make your own gingerbread house (out of graham crackers, icing and candy) to take home.
When: Saturday, December 10 from 11-3
Cost: $10 per building (doesn't include admission of $1.50-$5). This is a fundraiser for the Conservatory

Make a gingerbread house at Tiburon's holiday festival. The houses are already built and ready for decorating. Proceeds benefit Kids Believe Achieve
When: Friday, December 2 at 4:30, 5:30 or 6:30
Cost: $30/house
RSVP: recommended - email
Where: Sam's Anchor Cafe (27 Main Street, Tiburon)

Do you know of others? Post them below. And do tell what your favorite decorations are for the houses!

Coming Up: Orientation for Financial Program for Single Moms

Just saw this opportunity listed for single moms in San Mateo county. It's for a group called WANDA that is starting to enroll its next class. WANDA stands for Womens Achievement Network and Development Alliance, and it teaches financial literacy and matches investment funds that each woman contributes. For a more thorough description, read through the website.

Before they open the program to the community, they're having two private orientations for friends/family/colleagues (which you are). If you're interested, you need to attend one of two orientations - no RSVP needed. Info below.

The Program's benefits:

* $4,000 matched savings

* Save for retirement, children's education, home purchase, and small business 

* More education and networking opportunities  
Eligibility criteria:

* Single mother with at least 1 dependent under 18 

* Steady work history for past 2 years 

* Living in San Mateo County 

* Income at/under 60% AMI(see chart) 

-When: Wednesday November 9th at 6 p.m.
WhereFair Oaks Community Center, Room B (2600 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City)

WhenFriday November 18th at 5 p.m.
Where4Cs of San Mateo (2121 South El Camino Real, Suite A-100, San Mateo)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Get 'Yer Tickets: Seussical

I do love this show, and even own the CD (my kids hate when I sing it aloud though). As a matter of fact, I saw Seussical LAST time that Pied Piper Players performed it - it was excellent. This is a mostly-kids production (with a few adults thrown in) - true community theater, but good theater. Bring money for snacks at intermission - they raise funds this way.

When: November 11-13, November 18-20
Where: 2025 Kehoe Ave., San Mateo (Bayside Performing Arts Center)
Cost: $11 kids, $16 adults for reserved seating
Get Tickets: $1 more/ticket to get them online or call 650-992-PIED