Three Fun and Easy Homemade Valentine's Day Cards

February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day CardsMy kids always love to make their own unique Valentine's Day cards to give to friends and classmates every February. Here are three fun and easy card projects to make at home with common craft supplies that you probably have on hand already. We think these really beat the store-bought Valentines, since they're handmade, beautiful, and "from the heart."

Children of all ages can do most of the steps in these crafts, but grown-ups may want to help with cutting and gluing, depending on children's ages and skill levels.

Butterfly Valentines

This butterfly-shaped card that we made is designed to hold either a candy stick or a pencil, and is easy to make and decorate. We cut out the butterfly shape with scissors and decorated the card with stickers. You can embellish yours with whatever you like, such as crayons, markers, glitter, or paint. You'll need:

Marin Family Weekend Fun for February 6, 7 & 8

February 7, 2015

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Event Calendar.

Friday, February 6

  • Valentine's Day Card Making
    Pottery Barn Kids, Corte Madera
    Friday, 10 am–6pm

    Kids are invited to create one Valentie to give away to a child in need and one to take home for their favorite someone. Location: Corte Madera Town Center, 1600 Redwood Highway #D045. For more info, visit their website.
  • Father-Daughter Valentine’s Dance
    Belvedere Community Center
    Friday, 7–8:30 pm
    Enjoy a dessert buffet, photos, special valentine craft, and dancing. Semi-formal attire is encouraged. Cost: $50 per couple, $15 per additional daughter. Location: 450 San Rafael Avenue, Belvedere. For more info call (415) 435-4355 or visit their website.
  • Montessori de Terra Linda Presents Into the Woods
    Showcase Theater, San Rafael
    Friday, 7 pm

    Join the upper elementary class from Montessori de Terra Linda for a theatrical performance. Students aged 9–12 have worked to develop a show with action and song that will be performed one night only. Tickets: $12 adults, $10 children and seniors. Purchase tickets here. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, February 7

  • Learn to Saltwater Fish
    Paradise Beach Park, Tiburon
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    Kids of all ages can come out and spenc the morning learning the basics of saltwater fishing at Paradise Beach Park. A limited amount of poles will be available on a first come, first-served basis. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Rain does not cancel the event. Park entrance is waived for participants. Meet at the fishing pier in Paradise Beach Park, 3450 Paradise Drive, Tiburon. For more info, contact Ranger Mike Maraccini at MMaraccini@marincounty.org or visit their website.
  • KinderCycle Kids Swap
    South Berkeley Senior Center
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Bring your gently used kids items that your little ones have outgrown and swap them for larger items that fit them. Please bring your used items in  disposable bags, or bags. The admission fee per family is $5 if you have items to swap, and $10 if you don't.visit their website. Location: 2939 Ellis Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.

Make Your Own Pink and Red Playdough for Valentine's Day Fun

February 6, 2015

Play doughSculpting with Play-Doh is always a favorite activity for kids, and it can be even more fun to make your own quick and easy Play-Doh style modeling clay (AKA "playdough"), especially on a rainy day. You probably have all of the ingredients sitting in your pantry right now!

We colored our latest batch pink and red for Valentine's Day projects. You can, of course, use any color you like. If you want multiple colors, it's best to make more than one batch, as you add the food coloring during the mixing stage to make sure the color is distributed evenly.

Make a Beautiful Valentine's Day Tissue Paper Wreath

February 6, 2015

Valentine's Day Tissue Paper WreathLooking for a cool kids' craft for Valentine's Day? This tissue paper wreath looks beautiful and is easy to make for all ages, with a parent's or caregiver's help. To make the tissue paper puffs clustered on the wreath, we wrapped tissue squares around our fingers, but you can also just crumple them up, too. It makes for a fun craft for a rainy day or group activity for playgroups, classes, or scouts.

To make this craft you'll need:

  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Paint (optional)
  • Ribbon
  • Hole punch
  • Mixed red and pink tissue paper

12 Family Fun Chinese New Year Events

February 5, 2015

Lion dance at Bay Area Discovery Museum Chinese New Year MarinThis month, the Year of the Horse comes to an end and the Year of the Ram begins! Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year takes starts on Thursday, February 19. (This year is also known as Year of the Sheep or Year of the Goat, by the way.)

As with many major holidays, there's plenty of family fun to be found in Marin County and all over the San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from a Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on February 16 to the big blowout Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday, March 7.

Here are 12 fun family Chinese New Year events not to miss in the Bay Area:

Indoor Drop-in Activities for the Little Ones for Marin & Beyond

February 4, 2015

Indoor playRain is in the forecast, so here is a list of fun indoor play spaces for the little ones. I’m always looking for places to take the kids to get them out of the house and burn off all that extra energy. Here are a few ideas for fun indoor drop-in activites in Marin County and beyond:

Fairfax

  • Pavilion Playgroup (ages 0-5)
    Fairfax Pavilion
    142 Bolinas Road

    This group happens end of November through April each year on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30am -12:30 pm. Indoor playtime during the soggy season! Join other moms, dads and kids at the charming red building on the hill. Children/infant to 5 years enjoy playing with toys, riding scooters and climbing on a variety of soft blocks and mats. Parents enjoy mingling, playing and drinking fresh coffee and tea. Cost: $6 per child per visit or $50 for a 10 visit punch card. For more info, visit their website.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with the Family at Hearts on the Hill, Saturday, February 7

February 3, 2015

Kids on the Hill Preschool logoJoin Corte Madera's Kids on the Hill preschool for their annual Valentines-day-themed Hearts on the Hill Fundraiser this Saturday, February 7 from 4 to 7 pm at the Corte Madera Community Center. All families are welcome!

This year's Hearts on the Hill features fun for the entire family, including carnival-style games, face painting, a cupcake walk, a live DJ and dancing, food and drinks, a raffle for a family getaway to Disneyland, and a fantastic silent auction for exciting items like Giants tickets, meals, classes, golf outings, kid's birthday parties, and more.

Tickets are available at the door on the day of the event and cost $5; children 2 and under are admitted free. All proceeds benefit Kids on the Hill Preschool. The Corte Madera Community Center is located at at the Corte Madera Town Park at 498 Tamalpais Avenue.

For more information about Kids on the Hill Preschool, visit www.kidsonthehillpreschool.org.

Family Picnics at Marin's Cheese Factory

February 3, 2015

The Marin French Cheese Company Cheese Factory

One of our absolute favorite Marin picnic spots is on the grounds of the Marin French Cheese Company, located just west of Novato on Point Reyes–Petaluma Road. It's an ideal place to spend a relaxing afternoon, whether it's on a sunny winter day or during the summer, and is a must-visit place for Bay Area residents and visitors alike.

If you haven't been to the Cheese Factory (as it's known to locals), then you've surely seen it as you've driven out to the Point Reyes National Seashore from Novato or Petaluma. Both my husband and I grew up visiting this place, and of course now we come here with our own family. It's well worth the trip at almost any time of year, and it's a great first stop on the California Cheese Trail.

Yummy Winter Minestrone Soup

February 2, 2015

winter minestrone soupI love to make a big pot of soup on Sunday evenings, since it's a great weekend meal and makes for leftovers all week long. This version of the classic Italian minestrone soup uses vegetables that are available locally during the winter. It's hearty and filling and good for you, too.

Leave out the pancetta to make it vegetarian/vegan. I also like to make this soup using just water instead of chicken broth—the flavor of the fresh vegetables really comes through. I cook the pasta separately and add it to the bowls when serving. That way when there are leftovers it doesn't absorb all the liquid in the soup when it sits.

Ingredients

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