Tag Archives: Memorial Day

Last updated by at .

6 Fun Family Activities to Enjoy This Weekend

For many, Memorial Day Weekend signifies the beginning of the summer season and a return to outdoor fun. Here are a few great activities that will help you make the most of it.

Make and Fly a Popsicle Stick Airplane

Everyone loves to make and fly airplanes, and the rounded popsicle-stick ends on these make for a fairly safe, satisfying, and easily assembled flying machine.

You’ll need: 5 popsicle or craft sticks per plane.

Stack three popsicle sticks and then fan them out so that one end of each stick is still touching the others. Glue the tops together. Weave a fourth popsicle stick over the first stick, under the middle stick, and over the third stick in the triangle. Weave a fifth popsicle stick the opposite way—under the first stick, over the middle stick, and under the third stick in the triangle. If desired, add a dot of glue at each juncture for extra security, and let the glue dry. Paint your airplane or leave it natural. Take it outside and fly as you would a paper airplane. Hold the middle stick and try to launch it decisively and parallel to the ground.

Camp in Your Backyard

Camping out in sleeping bags is fun any time of year—in a backyard, on a porch or balcony, even on the living-room floor. Play low-tech games, like cards and charades. Make traditional camp treats, like s’mores. If you’re outside, enjoy a game of flashlight tag, played by tagging players with beams of light.

Make Patriotic Cookies

These red, white and blue cookies are festive and fun to make anytime. Enjoy the creative process and enjoy the response when you bring them to a party or potluck. In addition, they taste particularly yummy!

Paint and Plant a Flower Pot

Looking for a simple garden project or a teacher or other gift? Paint a clay flower pot with tempera paint. Let it dry, fill with dirt, and plant your favorite plant or seed inside. You can also cover a pot with seed packets or other paper products and attach them with adhesive material, such as Mod Podge.

Get Your Garden Growing

Memorial Day Weekend can be a great one to get into the garden. There are fun gardening projects to interest every age gardener and lots of easy ways to get a garden started, even if you’ve never been much of a green thumb.

Play an Old-Fashioned Outdoor Game

Will you be with a group of people over the weekend? Get outside and play an old-fashioned game, like Hide and Seek, Duck Duck Goose or Tag. Or play Pickup Sticks with real twigs!

You’ll need: Approximately 41 twigs.

Hold the twigs in a bundle, then release them so that they land in a pile. Players take turns trying to remove one stick at a time, without disturbing any other sticks. When a stick from the pile is disturbed, the next player takes a turn. Some players use a designated stick to remove other sticks. When all the sticks have been removed from the pile, players total their numbers of sticks to determine the winner.

Enjoy your weekend!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, VA State Parks

Take a Walk into Mill Valley’s History

My husband, Lippy, recently led an intrepid group of us back in time 100 years to Mill Valley’s Horse and Buggy Days. He did this as a docent with the Mill Valley Historical Society’s “Walk into History”, an amazing event that takes a different path every year to show people the very rich history of our old (by California standards) railroad town.


The first train arrived in 1889. It was a branch of the North Coast & Pacific Railroad and ran on a narrow-gauge single-track, then a double-track to the station. (The station was moved further downtown in 1903 to the spot that remained the train depot, and then a bus depot, and is now the Depot Bookstore).

In 1896, the Mill Valley & Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway installed standard-gauge track for its runs up the mountain. There was a telegraph office at the station. The early train made about 14 trips a day to the San Francisco Ferry. A trip to San Francisco by train and ferry took about 50 minutes at the turn of the century. Today, by car and ferry, it would take about an hour.

Lumber was also an essential part of early Mill Valley’s history. The Mill Valley Lumber Company, which has changed hands many times, remains in a spot near downtown. The railroad passed through here as late as 1940 for passengers and 1955 for freight.


This sign is still on one of the buildings: Railroad employees must not move engines or cars beyond this point.


We stopped at a wonderful stately Victorian on our town’s main street that was originally built as a summer home for the San Francisco family of George Lingard Payne, of Payne Bolt Works. Payne planted a row of magnolia trees for his wife, who was originally from the South, and the home, which the family used as a secondary residence, was called “The Magnolias”.

One of the great things about our walk was that we went back through modern driveways and discovered remnants of the past I’d never seen before, even though I walk and bike down this street all the time. Behind one such newer apartment building was the Carriage House for The Magnolias, which is now a private home. Its wrought iron gates were originally used on the elevators at the St. Francis Hotel.

Carriage House2

Poplar Brae, built by Scotsman William Terry in 1893, is a wonderful example of the sweeping Victorian verandas that surround some of Mill Valley’s original homes. It also has Asian elements, which some western avant-gardists were discovering at the turn of the last century.


Lippy had us pause and imagine the days when the train ran constantly down Miller Avenue, past these homes. Locomotives were powered by wood, and then oil. They were noisy, smoky and smelly. Vehicles were horse-drawn — cars were still few in 1910 — and the roads were dusty in summer and muddy in winter.

In 1893, only three homes had telephone service. Untreated sewage ran through a pipe down Miller. Streetlamps arrived in 1902, and lighting until then was by kerosene or coal oil. (No wonder so many wooden structures burned down.) Cooking was by coal or wood. Street paving began in 1917.

By all accounts, people walked a great deal, to and from the train, and also to the mountain for a hike. Now, of course, most of us drive to the mountain. (It is a long walk.) We’ve traded train noise for car noise, but our air is undoubtedly cleaner and our lives generally easier, with more conveniences at our disposal.

Back near downtown, this house was built by fireman Charles Thoney, who moved his family permanently to the home after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. (This pattern was repeated all over Mill Valley, whose early residents often used it for summers and vacations.) A Thoney descendant still lives in Mill Valley, though not in this house.


I played my cards right and got to be the tour’s photo holder.


Mill Valley 3rd graders learn about their town’s history and, of course, many of us keep learning about it, thanks in large part to the work of the Mill Valley Historical Society, who create the Walk into History each year and help maintain the History Room in the Library, which houses archives and treasures from our town’s early days.

Thanks, especially to Chuck Oldenburg, and to the Mill Valley Historical Society members who provided so much research and rich detail to the Walk.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman and Bettina Mow

Mill Valley’s Memorial Day Parade

Memorial Day Weekend is always a very special time in Mill Valley. The Historical Society sponsors a “Walk into History”, which covers a different neighborhood and theme each year. There is music outdoors on the Community Center lawn, and friends and neighbors mingle, eat, dance, and have fun. This year the food was great and the music was Latin, from a band called Rumbache that kept us on our feet.

The actual Memorial Day parade may be a weekend highlight. Anna marched its mile-plus length down Miller Avenue when she was 2 years old! She and I (and sometimes Daddy) were in every parade since for 10 years — with the original Sustainable Community group, then with Kumara Pre-School, then with Richardson Bay Girl Scouts.

This year, Lippy and I watched from our perch on the balcony of Mill Valley Music. Anna, a teen, was with her own friends downtown. The parade was as sweet and old-timey as ever, with its mix of politicians-in-convertibles, town notables, bands playing from flatbeds, scouts, martial artists (who stop and perform), wiener dog troops, swim teams, bikes, scooters, and the uniquely Mill Valley “Fashion Police”, who zoom up on scooters to give out tickets (clothing store discounts) for “Reckless Coordinating” and “Failure to Heed Spouse’s Advice”. Yeah, we’ve gotten a few of those.


It wouldn’t be a parade without lots of Scouts.

This year’s Mountain Play, which is performed each spring in an outdoor ampitheater on Mt. Tamalpais, is Man of La Mancha.


The Marin Youth Performers just put on The Music Man. What an impressive float!


This long-time drumming circle is based at the Redwoods Retirement Community.


Swimming to a pool near you ..


We are patrons of plumber Stanley Searles, whose distinctive blue truck is seen around town.



‘Til next year!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Red, White & Blue — Cookies!


We made these really fun cookies for Memorial Day. They’re called Beautiful Colorful Cookies and they’re in the Williams-Sonoma Kids Cookies book that we use all the time. My daughter Anna even entered a four-color batch in last year’s County Fair. They’re a tasty shortbread-like cookie, with a great crunchy texture. But, of course, the real star is the fun, unexpected colors. We use professional paste frosting colors (you can get a box of 8 small color jars from ChefMaster, available at specialty baking stores, for around $7), and, though they color well, it takes a lot of patience to get a super deep color in a cookie. You can see my husband, Lippy, had more patience than me when he was coloring this batch.

He also wants everyone to know that he skimped on the butter just a little because he was in a hurry, but that little bit gave the cookies a strange texture and taste. Lippy says, Slow down and take the time to measure correctly. They still look good!


What I brought to the mix was a technique of rolling logs of various colors, much like fimo clay, which we’ve used to bake our own elaborate beads. The logs are then attached, long side to long side, to make one big log, and that log is gently twisted to swirl the colors. These were done in small batches because, as with fimo, I wanted to roll and twist the colors just enough to make interesting designs, yet keep them each distinct, and not get a gooey-looking mess — which can happen if you overwork the dough (or clay.)


When we were done, we had a batch for the annual Mill Valley Walk into History, which my excellent husband led. (More on the walk to come.) And we had a batch to take to a Memorial Day BBQ, where they proved quite popular.

Beautiful Colorful Cookies

You’ll need:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
Food coloring
Mixing cups
Mixing bowl and beater
Forks, knife
Cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 350.

In large mixing bowl, mix together butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until creamy.

Add flour and beat to form smooth dough.

Divide dough into 3-4 parts, one for each color you want, and add food coloring to each, mixing until the colors are well-blended.

Roll each colored section into a log shape. Place the logs on top of and around each other to form one large log.

Begin to roll or twist the log gently, so the colors mix and swirl, but also stay distinct. Cut a sample slice from the log to see if you’re happy with the pattern.

Cut slices about 1/4″ thick. If the dough is too soft, refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place slices on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for approx. 10 minutes.

Yield: Approx. 44 cookies.

See more ideas for Colorful Cookies

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...