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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.

Focus Group: Baby Products

Plaza Research is recruiting for a Baby Products focus group.

DATE: Wednesday, December 7, ­ Thursday, December 8
LENGTH: 45 minutes
INCENTIVE: $100
REQUIREMENT: Moms with 3 year olds or younger, or soon-to-be moms in their third trimester, ages 18-40

If you are interested in the Baby Product study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H8J3TCV

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



SAN FRANCISCO 
SAN FRANCISCO BOYS CHORUS
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)




RANDALL MUSEUM


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




PENINSULA


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.


EAST BAY


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

NAPA
DREAMS OF TOYLAND
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

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

MORE ACTIVITIES/LINKS

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

What to do Thanksgiving Weekend

After you're done eating turkey, get out and have some fun in the Bay Area! Here are some ideas to get you started, either on Thanksgiving Day, or over the weekend.


ILLUMINQUE UNDER THE DOME
Westfield Shopping Centre in San Francisco has a new 3-D holiday light spectacular which starts up Friday, November 25 at 5 p.m. Every night, mall's dome will turn into a multi-media surround theater, with lights and a holiday story from the 19th century. Come at 4 on the 25th, and bring unwrapped holiday gifts for a toy drive. There will be other holiday entertainment and activities (since I'm sure the mall won't be crowded already). The first 500 AmEx cards presented get a keepsake ornament. If you miss it on November 25th, catch it nightly (every half hour from 6-8:30) through December 31. The show is only 4 minutes long.

GREAT DICKENS CHRISTMAS FAIR
This Cow Palace event is open Thanksgiving weekend. Get your discounted tickets on the Dickens website.

CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS - TRAIN EXHIBIT
This holiday favorite, the Train Exhibit, opens today, and celebrates Playland at the Beach. (Through November 20, get half price on a family membership, starting at $20, so your visit there would be free. If you're new to Groupon, get the deal here. If you're already a Groupon member, get it here.)



MONARCH MADNESS
On Saturday, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History holds its annual Monarch Magic Day, with hands-on butterfly activities, crafts, science, live music, free face painting, plant sales and more. It's from 11-3 and it's free.

FILOLI WINTER HOLIDAY
Starting Friday, November 25 through December 3rd, Filoli Gardens in Woodside hosts Holiday Traditions with various events and meals, plus unique shopping. While not during the Thanksgiving weekend, it ends with the Children's Tea on December 3rd, a fancy lunch and and visit with Santa plus some extras. Good event for Grandma to take your kid to (it's not cheap). It's sold out, but put it on the calendar for next year.

TRAIN OF LIGHTS
The Niles Canyon (East Bay) Train of Lights begins its holiday run on Friday night, through December 29th.
 

OUTDOOR SKATING
The rinks are now open. Go ice skating outdoors in the Bay Area.

If you're looking for Bay Area restaurants open on Thanksgiving, check out the listing from last year by Red Tricycle.

SF Kids.org compiled a list of venues opened on Thanksgiving day.

Looking for some Thanksgiving crafts for the dinner table? Check here. If you sign up for her email list, she'll send you an ebook with crafts and activities. There are some crafts on the site that you don't have to give an email address for.

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
Online reservations: here
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 (hello@shoptiburon.info) 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.

TRAIN WEEK AT HABITOT
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

CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS - PLAYLAND TRAIN EXHIBIT
What:  Playland at the Conservatorycelebrating 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
Ages: all 
Cost: Free with admission


Through November 20, get half price on a family Conservatory of Flowers membership, starting at $20, so your visit there would be free. If you're new to Groupon, get the deal here. If you're already a Groupon member, get it here.



TRAIN OF LIGHTS
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.

HOLIDAY TREE WALK
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+
Try this coupon code - may or may not work


SANTA CRUZ HOLIDAY LIGHTS TRAIN
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+

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Focus Group: Cars, Financial Services, Beer

Some focus groups recruiting through Plaza Research: 
~Beer~
Wednesday, November 30th, a 60-minute focus group or 20-minute individual interview
Requirement: Males and females ages 24-34 who drink certain beer
Incentive: $65-$85

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

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9SSTK8G


~Future of Cars~
Tuesday, November 29th ­ Thursday, December 1st, 2-hour in-home interview and short homework assignment
Requirement: Tech savvy/trend setters who own a car
Incentive: $200

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

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9NC2MVF


~Financial Services~
Thursday, December 1st, a 2-hour focus group 
Requirement: Males and females ages 21-45 who use certain financial services
Incentive: $85

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

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9TFKP5K

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 www.sfsymphony.org/holiday, 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 www.NoPotCooking.com. She also writes the popular food blog www.MarthaAndMe.net. 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 www.BretteSember.com 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, 


Gravy



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 khayes@soesupply.com.



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 aludlow@soesupply.com

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.


BAY AREA DISCOVERY MUSEUM

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
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). Here are addresses. 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

TIBURON
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   hello@shoptiburon.info
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!