Holiday Shopping at Stockings & Stilettos

December 7, 2010

Stockings and StillettosCome and find all your holiday gifts at Appel and Frank's Stockings & Stilettos shopping event on Wednesday, December 8, from 5 to 9 pm at the Regency Center's Sutter Room, 1270 Sutter Street (at Van Ness) in San Francisco. There will be variety of unique gifts from more than 70 talented designers at discounted prices. Shop for fabulous jewelry, clothing, accessories while enjoying complimentary wine, beauty services, goodie bags, and a raffle.

Admission is normally $10, but Marin Mommies readers can them at the special price of $7 with the code MARINMOMMIES at or at the door. Secure your goodie bag by purchasing your tickets online (quantities are limited).

12 Days of Holiday Books: Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas

December 6, 2010

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous ChristmasFans of Jane O'Connor's popular series of Fancy Nancy books won't be surprised to learn that Nancy considers Christmas to be a splendiferous time of year. Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas (32 pages, HarperCollins, 2009) follows its fancy character through the holiday season as she makes cookies, decorates the tree (too much tinsel? No way!), goes caroling, and awaits the arrival of her beloved grandfather.

Tragedy of sorts strikes when Nancy insists on putting her prized fancy tree topper on the Christmas tree. But all is made well with a little help from Grandpa. With colorful and appropriately fancy illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser, Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas will appeal to its target preschool through first grade audience, who may even pick up a few new vocabulary words after reading this book.

The Best Toys for Kids this Holiday Season

November 24, 2010

Folkmanis Golden Retriever Puppy PuppetEvery parent knows that finding a truly great toy can be a challenge, especially when you're trying to find one that's not only fun, but educational as well. For this 2010 holiday season the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has again helped take the guesswork out of toy shopping by compiling their annual Best Toys for Kids list! Nominated and voted on by the toy experts who are members of the ASTRA, the list of winners features a wide variety of toys for just about every age group imaginable. There's an emphasis here on good old-fashioned imaginitive play and fun, so you can feel good about buying these for your children.

We're also happy to see some local companies represented here, like Emeryville's Folkmanis Puppets and San Francisco's Green Toys, Inc.

Gift-giving and the Thankless Child

November 23, 2010

Christmas presentsPresenting a guest article by Mill Valley parent educator Julie King and co-author Joanna Faber. It's especially relevant for this time of year! You can learn more about Julie and her services, workshops, and presentations at

Have your kids been known to announce, upon opening a gift in front of the gift-giver, “I already have this one. You should’ve gotten me the other kind!”? Many of us have had kids burst into tears upon opening a gift, or angrily declare "I don't like this," causing great distress to the startled giver and great embarrassment to the hapless parent.

It can be hard not to be horrified by such unseemly behavior, or to question our own parenting, worrying that we’ve brought up greedy, spoiled brats. The urge is to punish them, to take things they value away from them, or to lecture them about all the less-fortunate children in the world. However satisfying these tactics may seem, though, none of them tend to create the grateful child of our dreams.

Create a Family Heirloom for the Holidays at Studio 4 Art

November 19, 2010

Kids can create a holiday heirloom for your family at one of Studio 4 Art's great hands-on workshops this season.

On Saturday, November 20, create your own clay ornaments from 10 am to noon. Use Studio 4 Art's wide selection of tools, footprints, handprints, and even dog prints to make unique and beautiful holiday ornaments. $20 cost includes 2 pounds of clay, firing, and glazes. Additional clay available for an additional cost. This workshop is suitable for participants ages 2 to adult.

By popular demand, Studio 4 Art will hold a second clay gingerbread house workshop on Saturday, November 27 from 10 am to noon. Construct a gingerbread house that will last a lot longer this holiday season—make it out of clay! This workshop has become a holiday tradition at the studio, and it's a fun project to work on as a family. Workshop costs $40 and is for ages 5–adult. Gingerbread houses will be fired in their kiln; you can come back and paint yours with glaze for no additional charge.

Studio 4 Art is located in downtown Novato at 1133 Grant Avenue, at 2nd Street. For more information on these and other workshops and creative activities, call them at (415) 596-5546 or visit

Gingerbread Cookie Sculpting for the Holidays

December 15, 2009

Gingerbread Play DoughFor many of us, the holidays mean it's time to bake cookies and other seasonal treats. It's always fun to get the kids involved, and this gingerbread cookie recipe via What's Cooking's Michelle Stern is a perfect one to use. It doesn't take a long time to make (no rest time in the refrigerator), and it can be worked and shaped like play-dough. Unlike a lot of cookie doughs it holds its form and doesn't melt into a shapeless blob in the oven.

Gingerbread Cookie Play-Dough

5 ½ c. flour
3 t. baking soda
1 ¾ c. dark brown sugar
¼ c. dark molasses
4 ½ t. ground cinnamon
3 t. ground ginger
½ t. cloves
¼ t. salt
1 c. melted butter
½ c. boiling water
1 egg, beaten

Singing the Hot Holiday Toy Blues

December 5, 2009

Playmobil PyramidThis year for Christmas my son inadvertantly decided that he wanted what turned out to be the hot toy this season: the amazing Playmobil Egyptian Pyramid. While it's apparently a totally cool toy, I never dreamed that it would be something that would be wiped off the shelves of every toy store and big box realtor in west of the Mississipi. In fact, we've noticed that many popular toys, especially things like LEGO and Playmobil, are just gone—as in not there, out-of-stock, backordered, or never there in the first place.

Calling Marin Etsy Moms

November 29, 2009

Etsy home pageAre you a Marin mom making and selling something extraordinary on Etsy? If so, tell us about it! We're looking for some local moms who sell their handcrafted products on Etsy for an upcoming feature on Marin Mommies. If you fit that description, please contact us and tell us about what you're doing.

We're specifically looking for Marin or Sonoma county residents who are creating items of interest to families, such as baby and children's clothing, toys, art, etc. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your work, and of course include a link to your home page on Etsy.

Free Sophie and the Enchanted Toy Shop Preview in Marinwood

November 25, 2009

Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop posterOn Wednesday, December 9, Marin Dance Theatre and Marinwood Recreation Department present a sneak preview of the popular holiday ballet Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop. From 1:15 to 2:15 pm, meet some of the characters from this beautiful ballet and watch them perform their dances. This event takes place at the Marinwood Community Center at 775 Miller Creek Road in San Rafael. The performance is free, but reservations are required. RSVP to

If you want to see the full-length version of Marin Dance Theatre's Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop, it will play at the Marin Civic Center on December 19 at 1 and 5 pm. It's a two-act children's ballet that features over 120 dancers plus professional guest artists. Adults $33, students and seniors $23. For more information, go to or the Marin Center Box Office to purchase tickets.

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