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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Coming Up: Easter Activities


What: Spring Eggstravaganza "Alice in Recreationland" (sponsored by SF Park and Rec). Egg hunt, carnival rides, bounce houses, food and entertainment
When: April 7, 2012 from 11-3
Where: Sharon Meadow, SF
Cost: $8

What: Union Street Spring Celebration (Easter parade and street fair); games, rides, bounce houses, petting zoo, pony rides, climbing wall, entertainment
When: April 8, 2012 from 10-5 (parade at 2)
Where: Union Street, Gough to Fillmore (SF)
Cost: free (individual activities may cost)

What: Easter egg decorating
When: Friday, March 30, 2012 from 3-5
Where: JAMaROO Kids, 2001 Pine Street, SF
Cost: $15/child, $20/family
Info: RSVP 415-614-2001 

What: Bunny by helicopter; face painting, bounce house, Easter eggs
When: April 7, 2012 from 10:30-12:30
Where: Hiller Aviation Museum, San Carlos
Cost: Included with admission


What: Spring Eggstravaganza; breakfast and photos with Mr. E Bunny, music, bounce house, train rides, egg hunt
When: March 31, 8:30 a.m. to noon
Where: Mill Valley Community Center (180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley)
Cost: $4/child, $5/adult, free for kids 2 and under

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Coming Up: Passover Events and Community Seders in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you're looking for a Passover seder, better get moving! It's only a week away. Here are some resources to get you started:

What: 3 community seders (2 are very family friendly)
When: Friday, April 6
Where: Etz Chayim (Palo Alto)
Cost: varies
Info: Must RSVP by Friday, March 30 at noon.

What: Passover story time for preschoolers
When: Sunday, April 1 at 11 a.m.
Where: Linden Tree books, Los Altos (265 State Street)
Cost: free
Info: contact Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School at 650-494-8200 x 104

What: Chocolate Seder
When: Sunday, April 1 from 3-5
Where: Addison-Penzak JCC
Cost: $20/family (members), $30/family (nonmembers) - up to 5 per family

What: Charoset Tasting Contest
When: Wednesday, April 4 from 3-5
Where: Addison-Penzak JCC
Cost: Free

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Link Love - What I'm reading

Some links to share
I'm all into organizing these days, and love Unclutter's organizer boards on Pinterest. Circle of Moms has some great ideas too.

Cute chalkboards for kids on Red Tricycle.

My new favorite website: Houzz, with hundreds of thousands of home photos (searchable). This post has kids' indoor hideaways, and this one has secret doors, playhouses, fantasy kids' rooms, and this one has great treehouses.

A travel writer colleague shared her favorite travel blog posts for the year.

My cousin the chef-in-training did another advanced training cooking class, on the theme of childhood foods (a new take). Check out the spread.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweet treats: Marshmallow Mischief, Chocbite, and Candy Stores

I've been seeing all the Easter candy advertised in the store...chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, candy, candy, candy. I thought I'd bring you some other types of treats to consider.

Marshmallow Mischief - this Bay Area sweets maker makes a gourmet rice krispy treat, that's gluten-free and gelatin-free (and they can make vegan as well). They sent me a sampler box to try, which I shared with friends (including kids). We each had our favorite - mine was the Italian Kiss, because it's made with chocolate and hazelnut (and the hazelnut flavor was strong - yum!). Other flavors include "Lava Aloha" (coconut/chocolate), "One, Two Chai-Chai-Chai" (Masala black tea), "Peace, Love and Peanut Butter," "Gingerlicious," (candied ginger/cinnamon), "Tall, Dark and Krispy," and "the Big Kapuna" (white chocolate and macadamia nut).

Chocbite - this is not a Bay Area company, but it is woman-owned, and she's a very delightful woman I'll say. I spoke to her for quite some time while ordering my Chocbites, which I found out about through a Plum District deal (the deal is unfortunately no longer available). Anyway, this is a chocolate company where you create your own bar. You choose the type of chocolate, and then choose from more than 100 toppings which are individually placed on the bar.
The bar above is the one my husband ordered. The one below is a holiday special bar they created for Valentine's Day. You can choose Easter ones as well. If you order, tell Adz (the owner) I sent you. Oh - she also does corporate gifts, so if your company needs to send some client gifts, here's another option. She makes a cute "Chocbite Bouquet."

Some places I'd like to try:
Young's Ice Cream and Candy Store - in Redwood City, this ice cream and candy store sounds like fun. It's gotten some mixed reviews, so I'd like to see for myself.

With several Bay Area locations, Powell's Sweet Shoppe has an old fashioned selection that looks like fun.

The Candy Parlour in Morgan Hill is locally owned and offers soda, toys and hair cuts (?) in addition to candy and parties.

Other sweet treats:
Our trip to Ghirardelli chocolate and ice cream fountain
Kid-friendly sweets shops in San Francisco
A review of the Jelly Belly tour in Fairfield, CA

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Summer Camp Stuff

It's another part of our series on Summer Camps in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Plum District is running summer camp deals all week. Save even more by using codes "visa10" or "address10" to save 10% on one of the deals (you can only use these codes once each, and not at the same time). There are tons of camps, including gymnastics, day camps, pottery painting, sports, rock climbing, ballet, dance, teen adventure, theater and more. Check them all out at Plum District. If you want a $10 credit to Plum District, make sure you're following us on Facebook, since I'll be giving a few away soon.

Sign Up for Camp's blog featured one of our links in their Top 7 Mom Blog Posts about San Francisco Bay Area Summer Camps. Thanks for including us, and read about the others here.

Savvy Source for Parents featured a good post from our friends at a Little Yumminess on unique summer camps in Marin and San Francisco.

Did you miss the other Frisco Kids summer camp posts? Here they are:
Interesting Summer Camps in the Bay Area
Summer Camp Planning and Fairs
Choosing a Performing Arts Camp
Camp Mather Registration
Camp - There's Still Time to Sign Up

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break in Arizona - What to do with the Kids?

If you're heading to Arizona for spring break (like me!) I thought I'd pass along a few ideas:

It's Cactus League Spring Training (okay, you already knew that). Phoenix (and surrounding areas) feature 15 MLB teams in 10 stadiums, incluidn ghte LA Angels, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, LA Dodger, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, SF Giants, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks (who don't get to leave home for their training!). Tickets are as low as $5. More about Cactus League Spring Training here. And here's the Scottsdale CVB guide to spring training.

Lots of specials, deals and packages, including the ones below. I did a family-friendly Scottsdale area hotel round-up some time back - you can read it here.
-Westin Kierland Resort & Spa - visit during spring training and get special programs/activities like Kierland Kampfires, Phoenix Zoo presentations, Kids in the Kitchen, Digital Kid's Club and more. Plus, there's the Adventure Water Park (900 foot lazy river, 110 foot long waterslide), the OK Corral with lawn chess, basketball, game tables, car race tracks and more. Starwood Preferred Guests (you can sign up for free) can get a parent's night out with a free Kids Pajama Party (you eat out at their deseo restaurant, they get free activities/babysitting).

Dude ranches are a popular option - read my review of Tanque Verde Dude Ranch in Tucson here. You can sign up for a la carte rides at many stables as well. A lot of hotels have horse stables/rides, even if you're not staying there. Book in advance, though because they're popular. Find a list of stables in the Valley of the Sun here.

If you're in Tucson, visit the Tucson Children's Museum.

In Phoenix, check out the Arizona Science Center downtown.

I love, love, love Bath Junkie. They just opened a new store in Gilbert, outside of Phoenix. At Bath Junkie, you can create your own scented and colored bath products, including shampoos, scrubs, lotions and more. My daughter and I went for a girls' afternoon and had a blast. With 200 scents, you can mix/match and spend time just smelling and guessing what they are. They also carry a big selection of cute soaps and other bath products (robes). 

We went to the Musical Instrument Museum last time we were in town - it's huge and very interesting - even for the kids.

A visit to the Valley of the Sun isn't complete without seeing the Desert Botanical Garden, where you'll learn all about the various plants that grow here.

Go for a hike! Head to Squaw Peak (aka Piestewa Peak) or Camelback Mountain. Bring water!

For other adventure outdoor activities, head to this Scottsdale website, with info on hiking, jeep tours, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, etc.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boudin's - Fun Bread

We love sourdough and often bring it to my parents when we visit. The kids never tire of looking at the cute sourdough creatures you can buy at Boudin's, especially at the Wharf.

When we visited recently, they exhibited a (burned) crocodile along with turtles. They were demonstrating how they make the animals - in Spanish and English. The baker wears a microphone and can talk to the people outside as she works.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Link Love - What I'm reading

Some links to check out:

The Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley looks yummy - based on this review from A Little Yumminess.

Peep's dioramas - Best in Show

Been There Ate That - food picture community from a fellow travel writer.

Speaking of food, check out the Voodoo Donut Shop in Portland, courtesy of Got Chocolate. Looks awesome!

And more food! Surfer fare in the Sunset.

I'm noticing a trend in this post - food. Here's is an advanced cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America, where my cousin is getting her education. This post is like their own version of Top Chef. I've posted her before - her photos are GORGEOUS.

Adorable kids' birthday cakes!

I'm on Pinterest, building up slowly. Check out my boards (kaplanink)!
See some other family travel blogs on Pinterest too.

5 Activities in Marin for $10 or less - by Red Tricycle

Monday, March 12, 2012

Free Kiva Credit

I signed on to Kiva, a microloan organization, sometime last year. Through a small (less than $50) investment, I helped to fund two different projects in Africa. I chose which ones, and helped women expand their small businesses to take care of their families. The first loan was completely repaid on time, so I funded a second one.

Kiva sent me a link where you can get a $25 free starter credit, funded by the Kiva board member Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn). There are a limited number of credits available, and last time I got a link, they were gone by the time I posted. I just clicked and they are still available at this time. If you're interested, take advantage now, here. The free credit is only good for new lenders.

Coming Up: Sing-along Sound of Music

The hills are alive...with the sound of your singing!

Embarrass the kids and sing along with the Sound of Music at the Retrodome in San Jose.

When: Friday & Saturday, March 16-17 at 7:15
Sunday, March 18 at 1:15

Tickets: $15

Sunday, March 11, 2012

SFO Airport Fun

You've probably spent a fair amount of time at the airport. If you're at SFO, there are some things that can keep your kids entertained.
#1 - the tram

The tram takes you from terminal to terminal, and to the off-site rental car building.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Coming Up: Gustafer Yellowgold Performances

Coming up - a small, yellow, cone-headed fellow from the sun will be doing some performances during his Year in the Day National Tour.

Gustafer Yellowgold’s show is reportedly unlike anything in family entertainment. Morgan Taylor’s story-songs about Gustafer and his pals is performed against a backdrop of large-screen animations done up with karaoke-style subtitles, and creates a world as deep and original as it is beautiful. It’s equal parts pop rock concert and minimally animated movie, but mellow. You can see the past DVDs here.

March 17: Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. Tickets are $5/kids, $14/adults and include museum admission. Performance at 11 a.m.
March 18: San Francisco main library at 3 p.m. Performance is free.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Family-Friendly St. Patrick's Day Events in the SF Bay Area

What: make leprechaun puppets
When: March 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Habitot in Berkeley
Cost: $9 regular admission - event included

I love Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons - they have a few fun St. Patrick's Day snack ideas
-Leprechaun fruit snack
-Lucky rainbow breakfast
-Lucky rainbow cupcakes
-Clover cupcakes
-St. Patrick's Day pizza

Watch the St. Patrick's Day parade in SF:
March 17, 2012 at 11:30
2nd and Market Streets to Civic Center, SF

There's a St. Patrick's Day festival in SF:
March 17, 2012 from 10-5, Civic Center Plaza

Join in an 8K or 5K run or walk - spread out over 2 days (March 17 & 18) with a fitness expo.
More about the annual Al Kayner's St. Pat's Races here.

Here are some family-friendly St. Patrick's events, by Red Tricycle.

Books of the Day - Kitchen Confidential for a Quarter...and Some Good Books to Order

Own a Kindle? Download Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain for a quarter. Not sure how long this will last.

And a few plugs for my writing friends:

Preorder for download or paper, Allison Winn Scotch's latest novel book The Song Remains the Same. I love her novels. Here's a Q&A I did with her some time back.

Also preorder Denise Schipani's book Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later. She'll be on Frisco Kids soon, but you can get the book first.

The talented Kayt Sukel wrote the book is Dirty Minds: How our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships. It's part memoir, plus a scientific look at the brain it influences love, sex and relationships. The part getting the most press is about how she gave herself an orgasm in an fMRI the name of science. She was featured on Nightline, and many other national shows.

Project Happily Ever After was started when author Alisa Bowman was unhappy in her marriage. She thought it was all her husband's fault, but gradually came to see her part in it as well. Read her story, learn and laugh with her, and get your own 10 step program to help with your marriage.  

I interviewed Monica Bhide about her book, In Conversation with Exceptional Women. In it, she interviews 55 women at the tops of their fields (mostly writing, cooking, entertainment). It's an easy book to read in short spurts, with lots of inspirational ideas. I highly recommend it, and at $4 a download, it's a bargain as well.

I met Jen Furer at a party recently and hear about her book Out of Status. Those who know her well tell me her story is a fascinating one, as a Filipina immigrant to the U.S.

And this one isn't books, but rather music. My cousin Savanna Coen (second cousin, once removed) is a very talented blues-singing teen. I'm not saying that because we're related. Listen to her music for yourself.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Purim!

I'd like to wish my Jewish readers a happy Purim. You can read more about Purim here, and get a good hamentaschen (cookie) recipe here too.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop and Ice Cream

My daughter is a huge Ghirardelli fan. So I indulged her and we went to get sundaes. Even as a local, this is a fun place to go (though I'd recommend not going on the weekend when it's mobbed). We went on a vacation weekday, and had no problems finding a seat inside.

The kids begged me to buy this five pound bar of chocolate. Which I didn't do.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day Trip: Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

It's been a few years since we've been to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve tide pool. We were overdue for a visit. Plus, my daughter is really into sea life, so this is her idea of heaven.

The reserve is in Moss Beach, about 6 miles north of Half Moon Bay. There's a small parking lot on site, or residential street parking as well. Look for my favorite "little red house" which is an apt name for such a cute cottage.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Some Interesting Summer Camps in the Bay Area

This is part of a Frisco Kids series about summer camp. I thought I'd highlight a few interesting camps. Please add your own to the list in the comments section:

A Little Yumminess Cooking Class - Teaming up with 18 Reasons in San Francisco, these food bloggers (and mommies) are doing a week-long camp of half-day cooking classes for 6-8 year olds. Each day focuses on a different country.

I recently posted on how to pick a drama camp. Here's one that looks good:
There are lots
The Drama School at TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, is offering a variety of vacation and summer classes for kids grades K-6. Expect theatre games and activities, creative storytelling, playwriting, and improvisation. Activities are designed to develop creative thinking skills while discovering how theater works. Each program ends with a student-created performance.

Laurel Street Arts - craft camp! Mosaics, glass fusing, soap making, glass painting, polymer clay, weaving, and much more. Half day camps.
For grades 2-7

Aviation Camp - Learn about aviation and aerospace at this San Carlos camp. For grades K-8, with high school age volunteer counselors. Full or half days.

Rock and Roll Camp - this Oakland BandWorks camp offers morning and afternoon sessions to kids and teens.

Quest Therapeutics Camps - treatment camps for kids who have emotional and social problems. Alamo and Atherton locations.

Bay Area summer camp fairs



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Choosing a Performing Arts Camp

This is one in a series of Frisco Kids summer camp articles. This post comes from Camp Broadway, on 7 tips to choosing a performing arts camp:

1. Safety first. Make sure the program is taught in a clean and secure environment with clearly defined child safety procedures in place such as background checks for staff, adult supervision of children, medical protocols and meal/snack plan.
2. Credentials matter. Your first call should be to the local performing arts center to inquire about their youth and community programs.Read the biographies of the teachers to ensure that every member of the teaching staff is an experienced professional. Make use of media that may post reviews about programs that are of interest to you. A social networking site pertaining to the program is a reliable way to connect with parents and past participants who may be willing to share information about their own child’s experience.     
3. Class size is important. Ask about the student/teacher ratio. As you may have discovered from your child’s educational experience, different ages require different ratios. To provide an optimal learning environment, a typical performing arts program will offer one teacher and one assistant to no more than 25 students.
4. Attitude is everything. Understand the mission and goals of the organization to determine if they complement your child’s age, ability and interests. Ask yourself if your child would be best served by a program that uses the performing arts to teach life skills or a program that teaches performing arts skills to aspiring professionals. Both approaches are equally valid, but the program experience can be very different.

5. Value vs Price. Weigh the reputation of the organization, the location of the program, the expertise of the staff and guest artists and the authenticity and quality of the content. It is also important to understand what is, and is not, included in the program including meals, merchandise, theatre tickets, etc. Prices vary greatly. However, as is often the case, an exceptional experience may be well worth a greater investment. Don’t forget to inquire about scholarship opportunities!
6. No guarantees. Be realistic and avoid promises of stardom or future employment. 
7. Camp is fun. Many programs feature photo collections and videos on their website that will help you envision your child at camp. A child's participation in the performing arts should be a joyful experience that produces happy memories, which will last a lifetime.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What to do this weekend?

What are you doing this weekend? Here are a few ideas.

--See the tall ships at Jack London Square.

--Here's a list from Red Tricycle

--Ronnie's Awesome list for March

--Go out for dinner. has $25 certificates for $5 using code VACATION through Sunday.

--Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, giving B of A cardholders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it! It's this weekend, February 4-5 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so just check the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu. 

Participating museums in San Francisco:
·         Children's Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum)
·         Chabot Space & Science Center
·         Contemporary Jewish Museum
·         de Young Museum
·         Legion of Honor

Coming Up: Chocolate Salon

You can start drooling now. The San Francisco International Chocolate Salon is coming up - and that means lots of gourmet chocolate eating.

When: Sunday, March 4, 2012 from 10-6
Where: Fort Mason, SF
Tickets: $25/adult advanced purchase, $30/door. Children ages 6-12 are $10. Children 6 and under are free (maximum 2 kids per adult or they'll charge $10 for each additional child). Tickets include chocolate and wine tastings and demonstrations.

Photo copyright: Deborah Abrams Kaplan. No reprinting without written permission.