"Charlotte's Web" Kicks off Marin Theatre Company's 2015-2016 Family Series

August 4, 2015

Charlotte's Web at MTC This August, Marin Theatre Company (MTC) kicks off its 2015–2016 Family Series with a production of Charlotte's Web, based on the classic children's book by E.B. White. Running from August 8 through 16, MTC's Charlotte's Web is the heartwarming tale of friendship between the adorable piglet Wilbur and his wise friend Charlotte the spider. Charlotte's Web runs for 95 minutes and is recommended for kids from kindergarten through 8th grade.

Charlotte's Web is of course only the first play in MTC's fantastic 2015–2016 Family Series. In October, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater brings us Cinderella as you've never seen it before. In December, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's beloved The Little Prince comes to the MTC stage for a holiday treat. And in February and March, The Little Mermaid, dive into MTC's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.

Gravenstein Apple Fair: An Old-Time Country Festival

August 4, 2015

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 8 and 9. 2015's event is the 103rd 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!

The fair also features apple-related contests in the areas of apple pie baking and eating, caramel apple eating, and even apple juggling! There's truly something here for the entire family, so try to make it this weekend if you can.

Three Nutrition Tips to Getting Back Your Body After Baby

August 4, 2015

Marin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin personal trainer and nutritionist Gina Parenzan.

Drink Lots of Water

Listen to your thirst; it’s there for a reason! Often signs of hunger are mistaken for dehydration. Before grabbing a food snack, try downing a glass of water. Water will fill your stomach and ease those hunger signals. It is essential for keeping the body hydrated and will reduce water retention. The general recommended daily amount is 64 ounces, so don't be afraid to drink up!

Mild to moderate dehydration can include these signs:

Eco-friendly Lunchbox Supplies for Back to School

August 3, 2015

PlanetBoxWhen 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 $87.95. (see photo above)

Explore Hearst Castle on California's Central Coast

August 3, 2015

Hearst CastleAs a family vacation destination, California’s Central Coast has a lot going for it: beaches, wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, charming seaside towns like Pismo Beach, Santa Cruz, and Pacific Grove, and one of our state’s most amazing architectural and artistic wonders—Hearst Castle. Once a destination for Hollywood royalty and political luminaries, Hearst Castle is now a state park and one of California’s most popular tourist attractions and a must-visit destination for families on a Central Coast getaway. It’s great place to add to your summer vacation list of places to visit.

Situated in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean near the town of San Simeon, Hearst Castle is the creation of San Francisco-born media tycoon William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan, who built it on a spot where he camped with his family as a boy. Morgan and Hearst designed this opulent hilltop estate to resemble a Renaissance-era Spanish village and to show off Hearst’s priceless collection of art and antiquities.

The estate, called La Cuesta Encantada (Spanish for “the Enchanted Hill”) or simply “the ranch” by Hearst, includes the magnificent Casa Grande main house and several smaller guest houses, as well as pools, fountains, terraces, fine art, and plenty of breathtaking views. Visitors to Hearst Castle can take one of several different tours of the estate, and are then free to explore the grounds on their own for as long as they like. As you wander the grounds it’s not hard to imagine movie stars like Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, the Marx Brothers, and of course Hearst’s companion, actress Marion Davies, relaxing at the estate.

Blue Bayou Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

August 2, 2015

Disneyland chicken and sausage gumboWe just got back from a family road trip to Southern California, where we spent a couple days at everyone's favorite Orange County destination: Disneyland. (Yes, it was crowded and yes we still had a lot of fun.)

One of the things we were actually pleasantly surprised with at Disneyland was the food. Sure, much of it was overpriced, but the quality was actually very good for the most part. We also learned that if you asked for a recipe at Town Hall they gladly give it to you!

We got their recipe for the gumbo served at New Orleans Square restaurants the Blue Bayou (the one inside Pirates of the Caribbean) and Cafe Orleans. The recipe they give you is a restaurant one for making huge amounts, so we had to fiddle with it a bit to make it usable in a home kitchen. It's really good, though—simple and hearty and everyone liked it. In our version we used spicy andouille sausage and cooked chicken, but feel free to use whatever you like; shrimp would be a great addition. Take a bite and you'll be transported back to New Orleans, or at least the Disney version of it.

Pick Your Own Apples in the North Bay!

August 2, 2015

Apple Picking

Late summer marks the start of apple season, and plenty of the tasty and popular fruits can be found in the North Bay, especially in the area around Sebastopol in western Sonoma County. Sebastopol is the de facto apple capital of the Bay Area, and it's justifiably famous for its Gravenstein apples, a variety that you won't find grown commerically anywhere else. While it's fun to eat and cook with apples, it's even more fun (and educational) to head out into an orchard and pick them yourselves!

If you're not lucky enough to have an apple tree growing in your backyard, then head up to one of the local apple farms that offers a u-pick experience. It's a fun family outing, and prices and quality are usually bettter than you'll find in the supermarket. There's nothing quite like an afternoon on the farm, too.

August Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

August 1, 2015

Parents Place 2-year-oldParents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. They offer a wide variety of programs and classes for parents and children throughout the year. Here are a few of the classes they are offering for the month of August.

Juggling Two: Preparing Yourself and Your Older Child for the New Arrival (birth–10 years)

Wednesday, August 5, 7–9 pm
You've finally gotten used to being a parent, you've established nice routines, and you've even managed to carve out a few hours a week to yourself! But now, a new baby is coming, or already here, and there just isn't as much time to rest and prepare as there might have been with your first child. Learn more about how to have a smooth transition. During this workshop, we will discuss tips and strategies for preparing the family, behaviors to expect in the first few months, and ways to support healthy sibling relationships. With Bonnie Romanow, BA, childhood development specialist. Register here.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for July 31, August 1 & 2

July 31, 2015
Sonoma County Fair
The Sonoma County Fair continues this weekend 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, July 31

  • Saltwater Fishing Lessons for Kids
    McNears Beach County Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 10 am–noon

    Come to McNears Beach where rangers will teach the basics of saltwater fishing. A limited amount of poles will be available on a first come, first-served basis. A valid California fishing license is required when fishing from the shore, not from the pier. This event is ideal for all ages. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Don’t forget to bring a fishing pole. Park entrance is waived for participants. Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Day Out With Thomas
    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 advance, $24 for peak times—Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 am–2:30 pm, $24 at the gate. Tickets required for everyone aged 2 and up and include all entertainment and activities as well as a 25-minute train ride. Parking $8 per vehicle. Location: Graham Hill Road, Felton. 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.
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