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Archive for June, 2009

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Reflections Exhibit (Courtesy Exploratorium) Ready for a little family fun?

1. Explore giant parabolic mirrors, strange reflections and other crazy funhouse-style optical illusions at the Exploratorium’s new Reflections exhibit in San Francisco. Tickets $9-14.

2. Berkeley’s La Pena hosts an Argentinean-flavored morning of music this Saturday, when Smithsonian recording artist Suni Paz unites with local fave Colibri for a toe-tapping family concert at 10:30 a.m. Tickets $5-$6.
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Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Under: Family Outings | 3 Comments »

FENTONS Popularity Goes “Up”

Fentons (Courtesy Pixar)
Business is booming at Oakland’s classic ice cream parlor, Fentons, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are those Black & Tans and Black & White sundaes divine, the folks at Pixar think so too. Fentons is featured in their newest flick, “Up.” Now, says Times reporter Chuck Barney, people line up for ice cream, then go outside to count red and blue cars, just like little Boy Scout Russell in the popular movie. Adorable.

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: Movies | No Comments »

JON & Kate & Crooked Houses

Pirate-Style Crooked House ( So not a fan of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” – and the prospect of watching “Jon – Kate Plus 8″ holds absolutely no appeal. But we’re intrigued by the fabulous playhouses that were delivered to the Gosselin household during last night’s episode. The blue pirate-style playhouse (pictured) and pink “Gosselin Garden Shop” hail from Crooked Houses, Maine-based playhouse makers who are raking it in right about now. Word is, so many people Googled “Crooked Houses” last night, frantic to get their hands on a blue pirate stowaway, like the one designed for young Aaden, Collin and Joel Gosselin, or a pink house, like the one built for the Gosselin girls, the site nearly crashed.

There’s no doubt about the crooked house appeal. They’re inspired by those wonky cartoon houses of yore, the ones with funky angles, windows that are just a tad off and residents from a million Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons. We couldn’t help ourselves – we looked up the prices. Whew. Guess when you’re a reality TV star, you don’t blink at a $4,449 price tag, plus delivery. They also sell basic models ($1,249 and up) and wall stickers that let you turn your child’s room into a cartoon landscape ($69.95 and up). Here’s the real question, though… which do you prefer, the Crooked Houses or Jon & Kate?

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: TV | No Comments »

BACKYARD FUN: Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches (Photo by Greg Gilbert, Seattle Times) All that talk about fruity popsicles a couple of weeks ago got us thinking about ice cream sandwiches. Mmmm. Sure, you could pick up a box of them at the supermarket, but they’re so much better when they’re homemade. And they’re even better when you monkey around with ingredient combinations.

At home, we use thin, homemade chocolate cookies (a basic roll-out sugar cookie dough, with cocoa powder mixed in) to make chocolate-chocolate ice cream sandwiches – the trick is to let the ice cream soften slightly, then cut inch-thick slices of the stuff and use the same cookie cutter you used on your cookies to cut rounds of ice cream. A fluted cookie cutter gives the ice cream a nice edge too. Serve them at once, or wrap them in plastic and tuck them in the freezer. (Tip: The thicker the cookie, the harder it will be to eat once it’s been frozen.)

Other great combos: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: Backyard fun, Cuisine | No Comments »

TIM Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”

MovieWeb – Movie Photos, Videos & More

Tim Burton‘s next cinematic blast is a little less than a year away, but USA Today just got a sneak peek at his new “Alice in Wonderland.” The Burtonized sequel to the classic Lewis Carroll tale takes place 10 years later, when 17-year-old Alice escapes an impetuous Victorian suitor by scrambling down the rabbit hole. The movie, which combines live action, motion-capture, CGI and 3-D, opens March 5, 2010, and stars the usual Burton crowd: Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter, Alan Rickman is the Caterpillar, and Helena Bonham Carter (pictured) channels the Red Queen. What do you think? Sound good? Weird? Tim Burtonish?

After seeing Burton’s take on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach,” and now with Alice on the horizon, we can’t help but wonder what children’s classic he’ll tackle next. We’re thinking … hmmm … “Little Red Riding Hood,” with Johnny Depp as the woodcutter. Or, the wolf.

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Movies | 1 Comment »


Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Queen Tired of “Twinkle Twinkle”? Yearning for an alternative to Brahms? The latest CD from the “Rockabye Baby!” rock and roll line is out and this one features the musical stylings of … Queen. If you’re worried that a little “We Are the Champions” will amp up the bedtime tantrums, fret not. We just listened to this CD and it sounds like Queen on Quaaludes – all vibraphones, mellotrons and mellowness. It’s actually kind of a kick. Not what you’d listen to on a solo road trip, but certainly something to soothe the savage toddler. And it can be yours! The CD, we mean, not the savage toddler. All you have to do is click “Comments” and tell us about your family’s favorite bedtime ritual. We’ll draw a winner’s name next Monday.

(Congrats, by the way, to Cindi, who won last week’s “113 Things to Do by 13″!)

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Contest | 4 Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Kindergarten Transitions, Baby Basics

Slide 1 “Childhood Matters: Nurse Rona’s Book Club”
June 27 from 9 to 10 a.m. on Green 960 AM and streamed live on Rona Renner, RN, and author Barbara Probst discuss “When the Labels Don’t Fit,” a book about tapping into your child’s strengths so you can manage, nurture, and enjoy your child’s essential nature.

“Changes & New Beginnings: Preparing for Transitions”
July 1 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
Speaker: Madeline Meyer Riley, MFCC. Whether it’s the first day of child care, preschool or kindergarten, changes can be challenging. This workshop is designed to help parents prepare for those big transitions. Free.
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Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Parenting Issues | 2 Comments »

SWINE Flu Closes Summer Camp

Summer camp Swine flu may not be making daily headlines anymore – not since the the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic last week, anyway – but the H1N1 virus has slammed a Santa Rosa summer camp so badly, the camp closed its gates. After 15 staffers fell ill on the eve of opening Camp Newman-Swig, a Jewish summer camp that draws some 1,400 young campers each summer, administrators placed frantic phone calls in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, telling parents to keep their kids home. According to the camp’s posted updates, Newman-Swig will reopen June 25, and everyone seems to be recovering just fine.

Is swine flu impacting you too?

Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety | 1 Comment »

RECALL: Nestle’s Toll House Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chip cookie Egad! Nestle just issued a recall for its Toll House cookie dough – the ready-made stuff in the refrigerator case that we all nibble on – after several dozen people fell ill with E. coli-related diseases… after nibbling on raw cookie dough. The Food and Drug Administration says 66 people have gotten sick since March, 25 seriously enough to be hospitalized. Nestle got word yesterday and by this morning had joined the FDA in telling people to toss any refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough, including the stuff in the flats, the tubs and the tubes; limited and seasonal editions; chocolate chip, gingerbread, sugar and peanut butter too. Not affected: cookie dough ice cream.

The FDA also said that tempting as it may be to actually bake the cookies, since your oven’s high temps will kill any E.coli, don’t do it. The bacteria could land on your hands and kitchen counters during preparation.

So what’s a cookie lover to do? Aw honey, bake ’em from scratch. Mmmm, cookies…

Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety, Toy Recalls | 1 Comment »


Berkeley Family Festival and Bike Rodeo Free bike helmets, carnival games and clowns? Yep, grab a bike and hit the 2009 Berkeley Family Festival and Bike Rodeo this Saturday, June 20 from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. at Berkeley’s San Pablo Park. Kids can ride the mock-city obstacle course, get their bikes checked out at the bicycle maintenance stations, watch live entertainers and play games. Run through the interactive safety seminar, and there’s a free bicycle helmet in it for you, too.

Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009
Under: Family Outings, Health & Safety | No Comments »