Marin on Ice Opens this Saturday at Northgate

November 7, 2012

Marin on IceThis Saturday, November 10 from noon to 10 pm, Marin on Ice opens at San Rafael's Northgate Mall. Open through January 13, 2013, Marin County's only holiday ice skating rink features 5,000 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. You no longer have to head up to Santa Rosa or down to San Francisco to get your holiday ice skating fix!

Special sessions at Marin on Ice include Wednesday "Mommy and Me" skating time geared toward young children and their parents, "Family Night" on Tuesday, and "Rock the Rink" on Friday evenings. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental, and "Skate Buddies" will be on hand to assist beginners.

Marin on Ice also offers birthday parties during public skating hours. The cost is $300 for up to 10 skaters, and two-hour parties include a private ice cabana, skate rental for everyone, chairs, a special birthday announcment on Rink Radio, and a ride for the birthday boy or girl on the rink's mini zamboni. The rink's three ice cabanas can be combined so parties can be for 10, 20, or 30 people. Private rink rentals are also available for your group, organization, or business.

Home for the Holidays: Elegant Entertaining

November 6, 2012

Marin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin interior designer Hilary Sessions of Quarry Hill Design.

The big challenge this Holiday Season is how to entertain with grace and style without losing your cool. The key to stress-free entertaining is prepping your home in advance, so you can relax and enjoy your family and friends. Here are some tips on how to pull off elegant entertaining.

Step one: make sure everything is clean and tidy. Banish those dust bunnies and pick up the clutter. Stash a few large baskets and bins in each room where you can dump all the clutter.

Dress up your entryway in the spirit of the season. Add a wreath, large bouquet of branches, a basket of pumpkins or fruit and scented candles. Something as simple as a few votive candles on the hall table makes the space feel special. Designate a place for guests to stash their coats and jackets, or make it a fun job for the kids.

Seven Ways to Show Her You Love Her

September 25, 2012

Did you know last week was National Nanny Recognition week? How can you show your nanny your love and thanks? Diana Chiarabano, owner of Rent-a-Parent Personnel Services offers seven ideas for showing your nanny how much you care. Diana has been helping Marin families and nannies for 25 years. You can reach her at

We all do it… we get so busy with our daily lives that we often forget to reward and acknowledge those who mean the most to us.  If you have a truly loving, dependable, and wonderful nanny, then consider yourself very fortunate.  You can go to work, fulfill obligations, take care of personal and family needs; all the while knowing that your child benefits from being in your nanny’s care. Nannies are like anyone else-they like to feel appreciated. This is a good time of year to dust off the “things I’m thankful for” list and put your thoughts into action.  How about showing your nanny how much she means to you.

  1. Create a colorful hand made card thanking your nanny for some special thing she did (for you or your child).  Your child gets the added benefit of seeing how important it is to acknowledge those we care about.
  2. Come home early and give her the rest of the afternoon off… maybe adding some tickets for a movie or dinner.
  3. Who could resist a spa treat? If you can afford it, this is a big hit with any female. If you have a male nanny, then he needs pampering too.
  4. Does you nanny have a child herself? How about some kind of gift for her family? Toys, equipment that you no longer need, time off for some engagement that her family wants to attend.
  5. If your nanny has been with you for a while you probably know what little surprise would make her smile. Starbucks card? Gift Card for her favorite store or service? Little extra $ for gas allowance or car wash? 
  6. Have flowers sent to her when she least expects it. Thank her for the times she’s stayed late so you could finish at the office. Or the umpteenth time she came early to work. Or doing the laundry when nowhere in the job description did you mention laundry.
  7. Remember, what’s good for your nanny is ultimately good for you and your family. Make her glad for being a nanny and grateful she’s working for you!

Holiday Gift Guide: Aquasaurs

December 6, 2011

Uncle Milton Deluxe Aquasaurs KitHow'd you like to have your very own dinosaur? Sounds neat, until you start thinking about all the details, not the least of which is that it's totally impossible, since dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years. There is a way to have your own prehistoric pet, though, with Aquasaurs!

What are Aquasaurs? They're a commercial name for a water-dwelling creature with three eyes called a triops or tadpole shrimp (Triops longicaudatus). Triops have been around since the Devonian period, roughly 350 million years ago, and are still going strong in vernal pools and seasonal ponds in North America.

Quick and Easy Holiday Gingerbread Cookies from Trader Joes

December 22, 2010

Gingerbread personLast week I hosted a holiday cookie party for my daughter's playgroup. I wanted to make my usual homemade gingerbread people, but ran out of time and ingredients while preparing for the party. By coincidence, I had a box of Trader Joe's Deep, Dark Gingerbread Cake and Baking Mix in the pantry. I took a look at the side panel and, lo and behold, found you could use it to make gingerbread cookies! I was saved!

I got out my trusty gingerbread person cookie cutter and prepared the cookies before the party so they'd be ready to decorate. You just add a stick of melted butter and a large egg to the baking mix, then form into a dough and chill. Then just roll and cut out as usual. I have to say, they made some of the best gingerbread cookies I've had in a while—moist and chewy with a pronounced spicy kick. They also had a hard to place richness about them, which I attribute to the inclusion of cocoa in the mix.

Return of the Marinwood Christmas House

December 21, 2010

Note: Sadly, 2010 was the final season for the Marinwood Christmas House. It won't be back this year, so enjoy these photos from last Christmas.

Marinwood Christmas HouseLast year, the most exciting holiday news in Marin was that the famous Marinwood Christmas House was back! At the time it was rumored to be a one-time-only event, undertaken in honor of the late Charles "Dooley" Stitham, who put together this impressive display for decades and who passed away in 2009. We're glad to report that it's here again this year and as awesome as ever!

Anyone who grew up in Marin—especially in San Rafael and Novato—in the past 40 years certainly has fond memories of this amazing decorated house. It was the Christmas House; the one all others aspired to be and the most amazing Christmas house ever. Lighted and decorated and full of colorful animated figures, dolls, toys, and holiday scenes, the Marinwood Christmas House is another of Marin's holiday must-sees. It's open daily through New Year's Day 5–10 pm.


Marinwood Christmas House
285 Adobestone Ct Marinwood
San Rafael, CA 94903
United States
38° 2' 15.5472" N, 122° 32' 18.1788" W

More Novato Christmas Lights: 2095 Vineyard Road

December 20, 2010

Kirt Donaldson Christmas house in NovatoTo us, the holiday lights and decorations at Novato resident Kirt Donaldson's house on Vineyard Road were the stuff of legend, mainly because we never were able to see them—until now. For the last year or two, the house remained undecorated through the holiday season, but we're happy to report that this year it's back and well worth checking out, especially if you're in the area visiting the Rombeiro Christmas House.

The front yard of the Donaldson house is covered in lights, figurines, and inflateables. Giant lighted candy canes serve as posts to hold strings of icecicle lights that criss-cross the yard. Speakers play jolly holiday tunes. And there's a snow machine. Seriously. Actually, it's not really snow in the way that snow really is (i.e. frozen water flakes) but foamy water bubbles churned out by machines on the roof that really do look like snow. The effect is impressive and it's the closest thing we're probably going to get to snow here in Marin, at least not without having to drive to the top of Mt. Tam on those rare snow days.

Find a Last-Minute Holiday Bargain at Marin Kids and Maternity Consigment

December 18, 2010

Marin Kids and Maternity Consignment, owned and operated by Marin moms, can help you find the perfect gifts and outfits for your sweet darlings this holiday season! Looking for the perfect "wear-it-once" outfit for your Christmas Eve family gathering? They have new-with-tags and "worn once" outfits for boys and girls ages newborn to 10.

 They also have a wonderful selection of next-to-new toys. Your kids (or you!) won't have to spend 20 minutes removing all the plastic wraps and ties! They can get right to play time and you will spend 50 to 70% less:

  • Nilo train table, blonde wood with removable landscape sheet to switch to a blank play table $80 (sells new for over $175 with the mat!)
  • Fisher Price Rainforest Bouncer Seat with buckle, vibration, hanging toys, music/lights/sounds ($29.99)

The Fratello Marionettes Return to the Larkspur Library with the North Pole Review

December 13, 2010

Fratello MarionettesThe Fratello Marioettes return to the Larkspur Library with their exciting holiday show The North Pole Review! This fun free family performance takes place on Monday, December 20 at 4 pm. This puppet extravaganza features a juggling penguin, a Brazilian ice-skating snowman, the Hawaiian singing sensation the Hi-Fi Sisters, and more.

We attended the show last year, where the audience ranged from babies to grade school aged children, and everyone had a great time. The show got pretty crowded, though, which is probably why you need to call the Larkspur Library this year at (415) 927-5005 to reserve your space. You'll be glad you did!

The Larkspur Library is located in downtown Larkspur at 400 Magnolia Avenue. For more information or to RSVP for the show, call (415) 927-5005. You can also visit them online at

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