Spring is in Bloom at the Japanese Tea Garden

April 9, 2015

Japanese Tea Garden

San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden is a favorite spot for tourists in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, but it's also a great spot for local families. I've been visiting since I was a small child, and I've made sure that I introduced it to my children, too. Before I took them there, I had forgotten how magical this place is.

It's especially worth a visit at this time of year when the sakura, or flowering cherry trees, and azaleas are in full bloom. It's a magnificent and colorful spring sight that's really worth the effort to see. The kids love to explore the grounds and get some tea and a Japanese snack at the tea room.

Theater Summer Camps for Kids in Marin

April 7, 2015

Marin Shakespeare Camp If you have a young Shakespearean or budding Broadway musical star at home, why not hone their talents at one of the theater camps being offered this summer in Marin. Here's a list of camps that have a focus on acting and musical theater in Marin County.

Marin Shakespeare Company Summer Camps

Marin Shakespeare Company offers camps for kids ages 5 through teens at locations throughout Marin. The youngest campers can enjoy learning Shakespeare's Stories at the Belrose Theatre in San Rafael or the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross. Older kids ages participate in Young Company (ages 8–12) at Belrose Theatre, Marin Art and Garden Center or Terra Linda Rec Center or Tennis/Drama (ages 8–14) at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre and Marin Tennis Club in San Rafael. Teens can participate in a summer performance of Richard III. Fees range from $325 to $875. Sessions run from June 15 to August 14. For more info, visit www.marinshakespeare.org.

Awesome Marin Earth Day Events, Idea and Activities

April 7, 2015

Stinson Beach Earth DayEarth Day 2015 takes place on Wednesday, April 22. It’s a great time to celebrate and teach our children the importance of preserving our planet’s resources. Families will find plenty of ways to observe the occasion here in Marin County and the Bay Area, and we've created a list of local events that either celebrate Earth Day or help families learn about nature and the planet.

Fun Events for Earth Day

  • Earth Day Celebration 2015
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, April 18, 9 am–5 pm

    Join the Bay Area Discovery Museum on Earth Day to celebrate the natural beauty of our environment. Every day, the museum seeks to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards by encouraging children to immerse themselves in our unique place by the Bay. All activities included with admission unless noted otherwise. See schedule here.
  • Earth Day: Celebrating Urban Biodiversity
    San Francisco Zoo

    Sunday, April 18, 11 am–3 pm
    Celebrate the fifth anniversary of Greenie’s Conservation Corner at the Zoo. Not only has this space been a focal point of conservation and education, it’s been a fun, hands-on learning space for Zoo visitors and Members alike. Come to the Zoo on April 19 for a special Earth Day Celebration to mark this milestone. For more info, visit their website.

Three Last-Minute Spring Break Getaways for Families in Northern California

April 6, 2015

Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz

Spring Break for most students in Marin County takes place the week of April 13 to 17. If you haven't made plans to get away, don't worry! Some great destinations for short, impromptu getaways are close by us here in Northern California. Here are three of our picks for fantastic places to visit over Spring Break, all of which are only a few hours away from Marin and the Bay Area.

Santa Cruz

This laid-back seaside town about two hours from Marin boasts beautiful beaches and the world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which has been delighting visitors since 1907. You'll also find a surfing museum housed in an old lighthouse, an interactive visitor center for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nearby Roaring Camp Railroads, and even the Mystery Spot, a roadside attraction that seems to defy the laws of physics.

What's for Dinner: Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

April 6, 2015

chicken and broccoli stir fryI love it when I find a dish that everyone in the family loves and that's healthy, economical, and easy to make, too. This Chinese-inspired chicken and broccoli stir fry is all of those things. Serve it with some plain rice or Asian noodles and it's a complete dinner that comes together quickly.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides on your Fruits and Vegetables

April 5, 2015

family shopping for produceI usually try to buy organic produce for my family because I'm very concerned about the dangers of pesticides used on fruits and vegetables. I recently read an article that discusses the dangers of pesticides and how they can adversely affect people, especially during periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects.

The scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) are concerned, too, and they tested for pesticides on fruits and vegetables collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For 2015, the EWG has categorized produce into either the "Dirty Dozen" or the "Clean 15"—the 12 fruits and vegetables (plus two extras) that you should always buy organic and the 15 with the lowest pesticide levels.

Some of the produce with the highest pesticide loads included family staples like apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, lettuce, grapes, potatoes, imported snap peas, and sweet bell peppers. Needless to say, you should always seek out the organic versions of these foods. It's a great argument for knowing where your food comes from and knowing your farmer.

Bird's Nest Cookies for Easter

April 4, 2015

birds nest cookiesThese cute and clever bird's nest cookies are the perfect treat for Easter. Light and airy coconut-filled meringues really look a lot like birds' nests—you can complete the illusion by adding a few egg-shaped Easter candies. We like the Cadbury mini eggs, but malted milk eggs or even jelly beans will work equally well.

The kids love to help make these, and of course love to eat them. These treats are a great addition to Easter baskets, too. Give them a try, and you'll probably find that they earn a spot in your spring baking repertoire.

Ingredients

Get Creative This Easter with Watercolor Eggs

April 2, 2015

Watercolor Easter EggsEvery Easter, we always end up buying one of those egg-dying kits at the supermarket (tradition dies hard in our house), but that doesn't stop us from trying out different ways of coloring our Easter eggs, like making and using natural egg dyes. Recently, a friend mentioned that her family likes to paint their Easter eggs with watercolors, so we thought we'd give it a try.

Watercolors are fun to use because they're kid-friendly, dry quickly, and really allow for a lot of artistic expression. Plus, painting your eggs is a lot more fun than just letting them soak in a container of dye, and the colors are vibrant and varied. Even I really got into the whole process, and I think I was actually enjoying it more than the kids.

Experience Riveropolis and Predators at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco

April 2, 2015

Aquarium of the BayThere's plenty of fun to be had for families at Aquarium of the Bay this spring! Aquarium of the Bay focuses on the aquatic animals that live right here in San Francisco Bay, featuring sharks, rays, sturgeons, moray eels, and more. You can even take a walk under the Bay itself in the Under the Bay exhibit and touch animals like leopard sharks, sea stars, and bat rays in Touch the Bay! The aquarium offers special programs for all ages this spring including Riveropolis and Predators of the Bay. We're giving away a family pack of four tickets to the aquarium; read on to find out how to enter to win.

At Riveropolis, play, engage, explore, and discover in this miniature river that doubles as in interactive art exhibit through April 19, 2015 from 10 am to 5 pm. Simulating a river that flows from the mountains to the ocean, this multi-level river is perfect for kids of all ages and sizes. Not just for looking at, this dynamic river has it all, including arts and crafts and engaging hands-on opportunities. Make your own raft or boat at the crafts table using reclaimed materials, such as wine corks and popsicle sticks. Then, place your handiwork on the stream and watch it float down the river.

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