Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco

Zelma Rose

On Sunday a girlfriend and I went to the 3rd Annual Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market that took place at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. We enjoyed mooching around the local and national talent and seeing the various handmade jewelry, clothing, paper goods, artwork, posters and Concourse Exhibition Center home products.

It got our creative juices flowing and inspired us to make our own versions of some of the things we saw. Here are some of my favorite things that I wanted to share with you:

One of the first booths we visited was Yes & Yes Designs which was a lovely designer called Laura, dressed as a girl scout, who makes these wonderful vintage inspired accessories in Oakland. She designs and laser cut them herself at TechShop workshop in San Francisco.  

Laura @ Yes & Yes Designs

 I particularly loved these ‘Little Ladies’ pins that are made from old Reader’s Digest book covers, and regret not going back and getting the white one at the bottom of this picture:

Yes & Yes Designs

 Check out this great roller skate necklace:

Yes and Yes Designs

These great fabric button necklaces are by Zelma Rose Dry Goods:

Zelma Rose Dry Goods

Zelma Rose Dry Goods

I loved this fun T-shirt design from Fuzzy Ink!

Fuzzy ink T-Shirt

 This kid’s hooded sweatshirt from Diane Koss with a red fur lined hood with horns made me smile and reminded me of the monsters from Sesame Street.

Diane Koss

I adored the beautiful illustrations by Genevieve Santos who portrays the innocence of children in a very cute way; take a look at this talented artist website.

Geneieve Santos

Baby & Toddler 
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Help Donate to Charity or Local Schools By Shopping with Treehouse Tykes

A socially responsible deal site called Treehouse Tykes has recently launched offering high-end fashionable design-driven children’s gear and apparel at up to 70% off!  Some of the luxury brands include Le Petit Bateau, Nursery Works, Mod Mom Furniture, No Added Sugar and Kukunest, with some new designs exclusive to the site.

Treehouse Tykes is reinventing the online shopping approach and experience by giving back with 10% of each sale donated to a charity or school of the buyer’s choice!  

Co-founders Elena Zaretsky and Cynthia Saito, both mothers with entrepreneurial backgrounds, wanted to help local communities and children after seeing school budgets continuously cut. Treehouse Tykes was born out of Elena's idea to impact local schools and charitable organizations that benefit children, while incorporating the new way in which people shop.

Elena Zaretsky, co-founder and mother of two, said the idea for Treehouse Tykes came to her about a year ago.  “With every passing budget, schools get hacked,” she said. “This project’s evolution started with, ‘How do I give back to schools and be philanthropic? Treehouse Tykes is dedicated to supporting children and their education with a platform that donates 10% of its net proceeds to schools in need and children's charities. Customers can allocate their donations to charities of their choice

Co-founder Elena Zaretsky explains more to The Marin Scoop:

What inspired you to start the Treehouse Tykes website?

“I've worked in municipal finance investment banking for over a decade - working with school districts and cities in California.  While working with the schools I realized that there are so many budgetary gaps that need to be filled, things that the state won't do and cannot do - but things that the kids desperately need.  So I wanted to figure out a way to be able to give back to schools.  Then the concept expanded to include charitable organizations, because they too need to fund projects and programs during tough economic times.”

Taut Canvas on sale on Monday

What makes Treehouse Tykes stand out from similar on-line sales sites?

“No other private online sales company allows customers to select the school or charity that they want their 10% proceeds to be allocated towards.  We want our members to make a designation - we encourage them to do so.  If they have no affiliation with a school or charity, we would like them to think about selecting the Community Trust.  When they do so, they are contributing to fund an underprivileged school or schools across the country.
Also, each day of the week targets a specific age group.  Mommy & Me Monday (0-2), Toddler Tuesday (3-5), Wonder Years Wednesday (6-8) and Tyke to Teen Thursday (9+).  Fridays we do a Fab Finds Friday which can be something across several age groups or something that would be great for mom or dad.  Our members select which days of the week pertain to them and the children in their lives for whom they shop.  We've segmented our sales so that parents don't have email exhaustion - we want them to know that what comes up on their selected day is in fact appropriate for their child.”

Taut Canvas

How does Treehouse Tykes give back to children’s education and charities?

“Each quarter, we issue checks to those organizations that have been designated by our members.  The key however is that members need to shop and designate.  So, if a member for example is very involved with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) they designate them as their charity of choice and they've shopped on the site, then 10% of the proceeds from the purchases of that member are made to the JDRF.  So the more people that shop the site and designate organizations the more proceeds we'll be able to give back.

Taut Canvas

What can people expect each day if they sign up with Treehouse Tykes?

We are highly selective and very thoughtful of what we offer.  It’s not just about putting something on sale.  Often times they are toys that are helpful developmentally, they are clothes that we know and love, and they are tremendously helpful things that we've learned about.  They are also cool for the teen set and cost effective for the parental set.”

How can members benefit by referring a friend to the site?

“We have a 10-10-10 program.  If you refer a friend, your friend receives a $10 credit to use on our site.  Once they make their first purchase of $50 or more then you receive $10.  Finally, 10% of the proceeds from every sale go back to the school or charity of the customer’s choice.”
Treehouse Tykes' main objective is to offer the best products for families while instituting change by funding educational organizations and children related programs. "Our goal is not to dilute exceptional brands by juxtaposing or over exposing them within a large mix of other products. Rather, we focus our keen merchandising approach akin to the elite experience one comes to expect of a high-end boutique," says Cynthia Saito, co-founder of Treehouse Tykes.
Mod Mom Furniture

Each sale will last 72 hours and Mod Mom Furnishing has a sale starting Monday; this Pink flower design is exclusive to Treehouse Tykes.

Mod Mom Furniture 

Sign up today at Treehouse Tykes and follow them on Twitter & Facebook

Baby & Toddler 
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Modern Cookie Company Opens in Larkspur Today!

Modern Cookie Company

25 Ward Street (off Magnolia), Larkspur; view website

The Modern Cookie Company opens their doors in Larkspur today, and I for one can’t wait to get in line for one of their unique baked-to-order warm cookies! It is the first location for the Marin-based business launched by two local moms; Jeanine Samuel and Erin Hull; both talented bakers who wanted to share their cookie concept in a kid-friendly social environment. Being “local” and organically-driven are important aspects of the Modern Cookie Company experience, and they also want to give back to the community to benefit children’s education. The Marin Scoop asked them both to explain more:

When and how did you start the Modern Cookie Company? 

Jeanine Samuel explains; “Modern Cookie Co's made-to-order concept is just launching now, but it's an idea that's been baking for a number of years...

It began with the desire for really amazing, just-outta-the oven, WARM cookies, never processed, or a day-old.  Couple that with a need for a family-friendly setting; a social place – like a coffee house, that's inviting of all ages, and uniquely modern in approach... I just needed to find the right partner and the right space. In 2010 everything fell into place when I met Erin Rose Hull, who shares my passion and vision, and who possesses an unmatched talent for baking! Wait ‘til you see what we have in store...

We are in beta mode currently, with a “soft” launch planned December 5th. But we really believe you will love what we’re doing, and give us your sincere feedback along the way so that together we can deliver the best cookie experience – one that’s truly customer-driven.”

Co-Founders Jeanine Samuel & Erin Hull

When did your love of baking begin? 

Head Baker; Erin Hull says; “It’s been a passion of mine for 20 years. I have always loved making baked goods and pastries, and really learned to love baking in college. For fun, my roommate and I would make peanut butter cups, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, brownies and cupcakes! I honed my skills and recipes, and further built upon my love of baking at Culinary Institute of America in St Helena (CIA culinary school) and I never stopped.

Jeanine adds; “I began baking in 4H as a young girl and continued to cultivate my baking and cooking abilities as a teenager. It was great therapy for me!  Today, I cherish baking with my girls, and passing along a wonderful, important tradition. Cookies are the original comfort food!
My recipes are adapted from my time growing up in Maine, and include ingredients like pumpkin and olive oil; our signature "fudge jumble" bars, linzer type cookies with blue chair jam, and a gluten-free oatmeal favorite we'll likely call the “larkspur truffle ball.” 

What makes a good cookie and what type of cookies do you offer?

“We are organically-driven and have very deliberately chosen our select & often locally-sourced ingredients with care. Starting with the very best...and balanced to bring out their different flavors. We’ve tested and tasted, then re-tested for flavor and texture, perfected our oven temp and cooking time.

It’s very much about the customer experience from the moment you enter, and we encourage your feedback as we grow the business from a beta concept, to a brand with multiple locations delivering the best cookies in the marketplace!

Furthermore, and exclusive to our approach, is that Modern Cookie Co’s cookies are made-to-order, per your specifications and presented to you fresh, within minutes – straight from-the-oven!  The possible combinations are many: you can choose your favorite dough, select your premium mix-ins and perhaps add a gourmet finish. Your cookie is warm, with just the right amount of gooey-inside, with a crispy-chewy texture.

We will also offer gluten-free and dairy-free dough in original & seasonal flavor options (including sweet and savory farmer’s market varieties). We have while-they-last Signature Cookies, Bar Cookies, S’Mores with house-made marshmallows, Three Twins Ice Cream Sandwiches and “Dough to Go.” We are also offering Bicycle Coffee, Art of Tea teas, Evolution Juices, Izze sodas and other beverages.”

Are you offering any special cookies for the holiday season?

“Absolutely! We will always offer seasonal cookies. Currently, we have Ginger Molasses and Pumpkin dough, in addition to Original, Shortbread, Sugar Cookie, Oatmeal, Molten Chocolate, Chewy Chocolate Brownie, Almond & Peanut Butter doughs. We have ginger men cookies and gingerbread house-shaped cookies and snowflake and dradle-shaped cookies and 12-Days of Christmas Cookies – there will be plenty of holiday themed decorated cookies – in addition to ingredients like dark chocolate-covered pomegranate, cranberries, peppermint candy, toffee, nuts, and finishes like edible glitter, various frostings, jams, and honey. And that’s just this coming holiday season!”

How are you giving back to the local community?

“We are a start-up, but we’re a company with a soul. More than just a cookie company, and a great in-store experience, we are inspired to “do something that matters”: 20% of (founder’s) after earnings profit is earmarked for public education non-profits. In addition to a small percentage of the company’s after-profit earnings.”

Go and taste their cookies for yourself at their new store; 
Modern Cookie Company, 25 Ward Street, Downtown Larkspur; view website
Also follow them on Twitter or Facebook

Baby & Toddler 
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Best Playgrounds, Anthropologie Holiday Craft Ideas & Shopping in Madewell

Play Dates at Playgrounds

Take a look at my favorite playgrounds in Marin and other moms suggestions for the best parks in the Bay Area on the Circle of Moms website:


While looking around the sales on Black Friday and over the weekend I found some cute things in Madewell and inspirational holiday items from Anthropologie in Corte Madera The Village.

I love the vintage style jewelry and accessories in Madewell; which is becoming my favorite store.

Black and white stripe bangle:
Madewell Bangle $7.00

Looking glass charm that can be attached to a delicate gold chain with three adjustable loops
Madewell Charm $12.00

These items are on my wish list:

Brown buttery soft leather bag:
Madewell Caravan bag $178.00

Brown leather biker boots:
Madewell Boots $248.00

Holiday Craft Ideas

There are some great crafts and holiday decorations in Anthropologie, I thought these snow globes made out of upside down mason jars filled with salt and little silver trees inside were a great idea to make yourself:

Anthropologie Mason jars $28 - 38.00

These sparkly birds with feather tails are beautiful:

Anthropologie Ornament $22.00

I managed to find a similar one in Michaels, along with the gold garland and glitter bow for my mantelpiece:

You could also go on a nature walk with your little one and collect pinecones, acorns and feathers to paint and make your own little creatures like this one from Anthropologie:

Anthropologie Hedgehog $12.00

Decorate big golden leaves with glitter and turn them into bunting or simply painting pinecones with gold or silver paint and place them on the mantelpiece, shelves or hang from fishing wire. They all make inexpensive holiday decorations and fun craft projects to do on rainy days!

Baby & Toddler 

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Sledding at Winter Wonderland & The Christmas House

If tearing around the stores on Black Friday with your kids isn’t your idea of fun then take them for some fun in the snow with sledding in San Rafael instead.

Also get in the festive mood with a trip around the Christmas House in West End Nursery where you can pick up this year’s tree decoration from 50 different themed trees!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Parade of Lights & Winter Wonderland

San Rafael Parade of Lights & Winter Wonderland, Fourth Street (B St & Lootens), San Rafael, freeview website

Looking for a family activity to do the day after Thanksgiving? Head to San Rafael for the Downtown Parade of Lights & Winter Wonderland where kids can go sledding on real snow! In its 32nd year the event features a holiday marketplace with arts and craft, live entertainment, children’s activities, sledding and one of the largest Holiday Parade in the Bay Area.

It starts at noon with sledding until 4.30 pm and 6.00 pm – 8.00 pm, and the Parade at 5.30 pm. Fun in the snow also continues on Saturday 9.00 am – noon.

The Christmas House

The Christmas House at West End Nursery, 1938 Fifth Avenue (Eye & J Street) San Rafael; view website

This year I will be taking my baby daughter to get her first Christmas ornament to hang on our tree from the Christmas House at West End Nursery in San Rafael. 

You can take the kids to see over 50 different themed trees in the various rooms of the nursery’s Victorian house full of decorative sparkle that will put a smile on their face and get you into the festive cheer! 

Baby & Toddler 

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Looking for something to entertain your toddler or want to reach out to new moms with babies this week?

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Harajuka Mini for Target & Thanks for Thanksgiving Book

Harajuku Mini for Target 

Gwen Stefani’s HaraJuku Mini for Target collection arrived in stores yesterday for children 6 months and above. It is a mix of “nerd rock’, “girlie glam” and cute “animal Collective” pieces. Here are some of my favorite outfits:

To see the full collection check out this Target link

Thanks for Thanksgiving 

Book Review

With Thanksgiving approaching next week why not encourage your children to start thinking about what they are grateful for. I reviewed a great book called “Thanks for Thanksgiving” by Julie Markes, full of wonderful rich illustrations by Doris Barrette. It was introduced to us by the great Christopher Smith at his story time at the Book Passage (free every Sunday at 11.00 am). Take a look at the book review

Baby & Toddler 

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Find Sitters Online Through Friends & Facebook Via UrbanSitter

We all need a break once in a while for a date night with our other half or to have fun with friends, but many parents feel a bit stuck as they can’t find a sitter that they trust or rely on to be available when they need them. A new service called UrbanSitter offers parents the ability to find and book trusted sitters online through friends and connections that they know via Facebook. The company founded by three Bay-area moms launched in September in and around San Francisco and is launching in Marin this month!


UrbanSitter was founded by three Bay-area moms: Daisy Downs; the mother of a 16-month old daughter, Lynn Perkins has 3-year old twins and Andrea Barrett  has a 15-month old son.  They started the business with the hope that they will make parent’s lives easier and more enjoyable.

We can do just about everything online these days, but when it comes to finding a trusted sitter that is available when you need her (or him), there’s just no easy way to do it.  Booking a dinner reservations can take just two minutes on OpenTable, but it can take days to find a good sitter. is an OpenTable-esque site that makes finding and booking a trusted sitter more efficient. When moms log in to the site using a Facebook Connect they can see sitters that their friends have used and reviewed. UrbanSitter also includes affiliations (like Southern Marin Mothers Club (SMMC) and Golden Gate Mother’s group, for example) so that if a direct friend hasn’t used a particular sitter, you can see that someone from your group may have, a friend’s recommendation is the ultimate endorsement.

By using UrbanSitter you can search for sitters for a particular day or time and see a list of who is available, and which friends have used them.  When you book, the sitters gets an email and you get one in return when they accept the job.  You can then view and manage all your babysitting jobs in one place online. What’s more, the site allows parents to view and contribute ratings and reviews for sitters.

Daisy Downs explains more to The Marin Scoop:

How and why did you and the founders come up with concept for UrbanSitter?

“It seemed to us that parents should be able to find and book a trusted sitter as quickly as you can find and book a date night restaurant reservation. So we put their heads together and ultimately, created UrbanSitter.”

How does UrbanSitter work?

“It’s easy! Parents sign up for UrbanSitter using Facebook and can view sitters known through friends or affiliations like schools, sports teams and parents groups. They can search for a specific date and time to see which sitters are available, or plan an outing when they know their favorite sitter is open. Jobs or interviews can be booked in minutes. After the fact, parents can contribute written reviews, ratings and Facebook “Likes” to sitter profiles.

It’s just as easy for sitters, who simply post their credentials, as well as availability, hourly rates and location preferences. The ability to see who parents are connected to fosters trust and familiarity and helps them decide which jobs to accept. To protect privacy, contact information is exchanged only after the booking is confirmed, and, unlike with childcare agencies that skim a percentage of wages, sitters keep all the money they earn. What’s more, positive reviews posted to the site help them gain more work.”

What makes UrbanSitter stand out from similar sitter services?

“We take a unique spin on the childcare services that exist today in that our focus is connecting parents to sitters through people they know.  So, first and foremost, UrbanSitter offers trust. We use Facebook Connect and affiliation groups so that parents can find sitters they are connected to.  For example, when a parent registers they can select groups such as Southern Marin Mothers Club (SMMC), their child’s school, or a sports team.  When searching for a sitter, parents can see all the parents from their various affiliations that have used a specific sitter. 

Second, the site increases efficiency. Booking a sitter with UrbanSitter is as easy as booking a dinner reservation on OpenTable.  Parents can search by date and time.  Only sitters who have availability during the requested time will show up as available. For example….let’s say you want to buy tickets to see the latest play in town.  Should you go Thursday or Friday?  A quick glance at US and you can see that two sitters that you know and five sitters your friends know are free on Thursday so you buy the Thursday tickets.
Third, UrbanSitter offer parents a much larger network of babysitters. For parents, more babysitters means flexibility to enjoy more nights out without having to plan so far in advance. Many of our parent members say they love that ability to be more spontaneous!

Do you have any affiliations with mother's groups in Marin?

The three founding moms live in San Francisco and are part of Golden Gate Mother’s Group.  They know how important and influential opinions from mothers in their groups can be, so they've built those affiliations into the site.  When parents in Marin sign up, they'll be able to indicate which groups they are a part of, like Southern Marin Mother’s Club or a sport team or a school, so that they can see which sitters have been recommended by moms in their groups.

So make life easier for yourself by signing up today on UrbanSitter's website!

Baby & Toddler 

Weekly Activities Calendars

Looking for something to entertain your toddler or want to reach out to new moms with babies this week?

To view this week’s activities: Click here

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