Gravenstein Apple Fair: An Old-Time Country Festival

August 7, 2014

Girl with pie Gravenstein Apple FairWhere can you spend the day walking under ancient oaks following your nose from food booth to food booth (featuring frying apple fritters or slices of four-inch high apple pie),  taking in terrific acoustic music, and experiencing the sights and sounds of a turn-of-the-century barnyard? At the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair, of course?

Sonoma County's summertime jewel takes place in Sebastopol's Ragle Ranch Park this weekend, August 9 and 10. 2014's event is the 102nd Gravenstein Apple Fair, which showcases the best in arts, crafts, food, wines and beers, games, entertainment, and farm life activities.

The Gravenstein Apple Fair is produced by Sonoma County Farm Trails, and celebrates Sebastopol's iconic sweet and tart apple variety. While the fair in days past was a massive agricultural and food processing showcase, the modern version features family friendly fun like arts and crafts booths, chef demonstrations, live music on two stages, a petting zoo, farm animal displays, a hay maze, artisan booths selling handmade goods, and of course apples!

Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas for the New School Year

August 5, 2014

Healthy school lunch ideasNo matter how prepared for the new school year you think you are, it can always be challenging to figure out what to pack for school lunches and snacks. Trying to balance healthy, nutritious food and things the kids will actually eat can be difficult, too.

Here are a few of my family's favorite lunchbox treats that are not only good for you, but delicious and fun to eat, too. The kids love to help make them—I find that they usually eat food they prepare themselves (even vegetables!), so I usually let them help out in the kitchen when I can, especially when we're making their school lunches.

Tortellini Skewers

My daughter absolutely loves cheese tortellini (and what kid doesn’t?) so we make these neat little skewers for a lunchtime treat.

You’ll need:

  • 1 8-ounce package of fresh cheese-filled tortellini

Eco-friendly Lunchbox Supplies for Back to School

August 5, 2014

Kids' Konserve lunch setWhen it comes to back-to-school, green is the way to go! Instead of throwing away plastic and paper products and sending them to the landfill every day, why not invest in some reusable eco-friendly lunch box supplies for your kids this school year?

The examples listed below are stylish and durable and should last for years. Our family owns several of the products that I’ve listed here, and we use them all the time for school lunches, snacks, and picnics. Many of these products can be purchased at local retailers throughout Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Reusable lunch bags and boxes:

  • San Rafael-based company PlanetBox creates stainless steel lunch kits that fit neatlly into soft cloth carrying cases. They come in three different sizes—Launch, Rover, and Shuttle—in a variety of designs and colors. Sets come with a cool magnet set of your choice with which to decorate your lunchbox. Prices range from $34.95 to $74.95.

Chicken-Spinach Burgers

August 4, 2014

Chicken-spinach burgerMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike.

These burgers really pack a punch with big flavors and healthy ingredients. They are a nice change from the same old beef burger and great for summer barbeques. If you can’t find ground chicken substitute ground turkey.

Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground chicken (I prefer thigh meat but breast meat is also fine)
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Spend the Last Days of Summer at the Rolling Hills Club in Novato!

August 3, 2014

Rolling Hills Club Summer CampIt's August, and summer vacation will be over before we know it! But we still have a couple weeks to go, and if you're looking for something for the kids to do in the last days of summer, check out the camps for kids 3 to 13 at Novato's Rolling Hills Club.

You can sign up for the whole week, or attend the club's Sports & Splash Camps and Junior Tennis Camp on a daily basis. Extended camp is available daily from 8:30–9 am and 4–6 pm.

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Burdell, the club's seven-acre campus features two outdoor swimming pools, 12 tennis courts, two racquetball courts, an outdoor sports court, an outdoor playground, grassy fields for outdoor play, and more.

In Sports & Splash Camp for ages 5–12 campers play basketball, tennis, soccer, and wild and wacky games, and of course swimming is offered every day, too. August 4–8 is "Have a Ball" week, and August 11–15 is "Spy Week". Daily fee is $70 ($60 members); weekly is $320 ($270 members).

Easy and Awesome Zucchini Bread

August 3, 2014

At this point in the summer our backyard garden is in full production, especially the zucchini and summer squash plants. If you've got too much zucchini on your hands, or if you find one of those monster squash hiding out among the leaves, use it to make some delicious zucchini bread!

Just be careful what you call it around your kids, in case any of them are zucchini-phobic. (I promise they won't know that there's any squash in it.)

This recipe is super easy and makes two loaves. If that seems like too much, don't worry—it freezes well, and neighbors, family, friends, and even teachers all love the gift of a fresh-baked loaf of zucchini bread (probably better than gifts of your excess zucchini).

Makes 2 loaves
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Wine Country Family Fun at Cornerstone Sonoma

August 2, 2014

Cornerstone SonomaOne of our must-visit Wine Country family destinations is Cornerstone Sonoma. It's a fun, family-friendly place to explore, play, and take in the beauty of their six acres of gardens and art installations. You can shop, dine, and wine taste here, too. We always make a point of visiting whenever we head up to the Wine Country. It's constantly changing, and there's always something new to see. Best of all, admission to the gardens is free!

You'll find Cornerstone just outside the town of Sonoma, across from the Gloria Ferrer winery on Highway 121, so it's easy to get to. Look for the long white picket fence and Big Blue Chair on your right as you head towards Sonoma, and you'll know you're there.

Every time we go to Cornerstone, my kids have a fantastic time exploring the 20 different innovative garden installations, each with a different theme and each designed by a world-famous landscape architect. Gardens include plants, trees, natural materials, water features (often with fish and frogs), and architectural elements.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for August 1, 2 & 3

August 1, 2014
Sonoma County Fair
Carnival rides await at the 2014 Sonoma County Fair, through August 10 at the Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, August 1

  • Day Out with Thomas 2014
    Roaring Camp Railroad, Felton
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10:30 am–5:30 pm

    This popular family event takes place at Roaring Camp Railroads in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can take a train ride, meet Sir Topham Hatt, and enjoy live music. Tickets: $20–$24. Parking $8 per vehicle. Roaring Camp Railroads is in Felton on Graham Hill Road. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sonoma County Fair
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 am–11 pm

    The Sonoma County Fair offers both a classic full-scale carnival with plenty of excitement for thrill-seekers and a separate kiddie carnival area for the little ones, with scaled down thrills and lots of excitement. Fair admission is free every day for children 6 and under; Friday is Kids' Days, with free admission for all children 12 and under. Carnival rides are an additional charge. Admission is $11 for ages 13 and up, $5 for children 7–12, and free for children 6 and under. For more info, visit www.sonomacountyfair.com.
  • Children's Garden Series: Chelle! & Friends
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, 11–11:30 am & 12:15–12:45 pm

    This free event is part of the Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Chelle! & Friends bring a family friendly taste of New Orleans, the city where jazz was born. Join the party, move your feet, sing-along, and join a Mardi Gras parade. Laissez les bon temps rouler! For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Family Date Nights: DJ Mancub
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Friday, 5–7:30 pm

    Bring your family to enjoy later hours, live entertainment, special outdoor activities, and more. All activities and performances included with all-day museum admission. Free admission for members. This Friday: Join in as DJ Mancub spins his signature mix of some of the top danceable family fun tunes. For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit their website.
  • Picnics on the Plaza
    Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    In its fifth year, the popular Picnics on the Plaza events feature music and family fun in downtown San Anselmo. Bring your picnic basket or buy food at the event. Sponsored by the San Anselmo Economic Development Committee. Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pajama Party at Diesel!
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur
    Friday, 6 pm
    Put on your PJs and enjoy story time with author and illustrator LeUyen Pham at Diesel, A Bookstore. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, and have some milk and cookies before heading home for bed. LeUyen Pham asks participants to brings something special and strange to trade with someone else. Location: 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tam Valley's Creekside Fridays
    Tennessee Valley Cabin, Mill Valley
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Bring the family, pets, chairs, and blankets to the weekly free musical event. This week: Don Forbes & Reckless. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Outer Space from Open Space
    Stafford Lake County Park, Novato
    Friday, 8–10 pm
    Come view outer space from open space and identify the major constellations and talk about the legends behind them. Rangers will lead a short hike in Stafford Lake Park and astronomer Larry Brodkin will be there to help participants get a deep view into the heavens with his 8” Meade telescope. Stargazers should wear warm clothes and bring binoculars or a telescope, flashlight, blankets, water, snacks, and star charts. Meet at the Stafford Lake gate house, 3549 Novato Boulevard. Free. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, August 2

  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free! Enjoy the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Chabot Space and Science Center. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. For more information, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, face kids' crafts from 9 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.
  • Novato Space Festival
    Pacheco Plaza, Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Meet legendary astronauts, including Apollo 12's Dick Gordon, touch a full-sized lunar module replica, get your photo taken in a moon buggy, view the sun through telescopes, check out interactive space displays from NASA, and more at the Space Station Museum's annual Space Festival. Admission and parking are free! For more info, visit their website.
  • The Global Big Latch On
    Terra Linda Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am

    At the Big Latch On, groups of breastfeeding women coming together at registered locations around the world to all latch on their child at a set time. All the breastfeeding women and children are latched on for one minute at the set time and are counted by the witnesses. The numbers are added up and we see if we can beat previous Big Latch On records! Marin's Big Latch On event will be held at the Terra Linda park in San Rafael, 670 Del Ganado Road, and includes a raffle, goodies, and a photographer. For more info, visit their website.
  • Summer Gardening Fair
    San Francisco Botanical Garden
    Saturday, 10 am–3 pm

    An annual tradition at the Botanical Garden, the Summer Gardening Fair is a free, fun and friendly gathering of plant enthusiasts sharing ideas, plants and plant-related items. This year, additional children's activities are featured. Location: 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kids Origami Workshop
    Corte Madera Library
    Saturday, noon–1 pm
    Learn techniques from amazing student origami artist Grace Lightner as you make beautiful creations from paper. For ages 8 and up. Location: 707 Meadowsweet Drive, Corte Madera. For more info, call (415) 924-6382 or visit their website.
  • Petaluma Music Festival
    Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds
    Saturday, noon–8:45 pm

    This family friendly festival will feature 14 fantastic bands on three stages, and a kids' area with a giant slide, face painting, toddler inflatable, petting zoo, arts and crafts, and more! Tickets: $40 general, $20 students 13–17, and free for kids 12 and under. All proceeds from the Kids' Area go to the music programs in all Petaluma area public schools! For more info, visit their website.

Explore the Final Frontier at the Space Station Museum in Novato

July 31, 2014

Space Station Museum NovatoBring your budding astronauts to learn about space exploration in a hands-on environment at the Space Station, Novato's free, kid-friendly space museum. Located in a storefront in the newly renovated Pacheco Plaza shopping center, the Space Station is a small but rich little museum that offers families and school groups a chance to explore the history of spaceflight and exploration. The museum also organizes the annual Novato Space Festival, a free family event that offers hands-on activities, interactive displays, and the chance to meet legendary NASA astronauts.

At the Space Station Museum, kids can see, handle, and even try on actual space artifacts, many of which have actually flown in space. You can try on a pair of Russian cosmonaut's space suit gloves, don a prototype space helmet designed for the Apollo missions, and even sit in a seat from a Soyuz spacecraft.

Objects on view are part of the collection of the W Foundation, a non-profit founded by Ken Winans and his wife Debbie Wreyford-Winans, and include American, Russian, and Soviet-era space equipment, clothing, photographs, a meteorite, and more. The W Foundation, which possesses one of the largest private collections of space exploration artifacts in the world, also works with organizations and events like Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center, the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, and San Francisco Fleet Week to present educational exhibits on the history of space exploration.

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