Building a Fun Lunch Box: Chicken Teriyaki Skewers

August 12, 2014

teriyaki skewersMarin 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.

I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t love the sweet and salty taste of teriyaki. So, this week, we will focus on an Asian inspired lunch box with fun to eat and dip skewers, sweet and tangy fruit and salty Japanese rice sticks. To make your life easy, make the chicken using my Ginger Soy Chicken Thigh recipe the day before and eat it for dinner while reserving some as leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Both parents and kids will love this lunch the next day.

Lunch Box Fixings

Uncle Gerry Performs Two Family Concerts in Marin This Weekend

August 12, 2014

Uncle Gerry DignanOn Friday, August 15 and Sunday, August 17, Sing-Dance-Play and Music Together of Marin will host concerts for young children and their families featuring recording artist "Uncle" Gerry Dignan, whose music is featured on the CDs given to children who take Music Together classes. Friday's show takes place at 4 pm at San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, and Sunday's performance takes place at 4 pm at the Homestead Valley Community Center, 315 Montford Avenue in Mill Valley.

Admission is on a sliding scale of $5–$10 per person or $20 per family. The concert is suitable for families with children from birth to 8 years old.

The concerts will also feature Music Together of Marin and Sing-Dance-Play staff and teachers singing favorite Music Together songs. Both concerts benefit Bread & Roses, the Marin nonprofit organization dedicated to uplifting the human spirit by providing free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society. Bread & Roses produces almost 600 shows a year for children, adults, and elders in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fresh and Healthy Summer Garden Chili

August 11, 2014

summer chiliChili is one of those meals that can be on the hearty, heavy side and not something you necessarily want to eat for a summer dinner—except for this fresh and healthy version. For this summer chili, I lighten things up considerably and take advantage of fresh summer produce like the zucchini growing in our backyard garden and sweet corn.

Serve this chili with a variety of toppings and add-ons so each diner can customize it to his or her taste. You can make it vegetarian (or vegan, really) by omitting the ground turkey and doubling the amount of beans and squash. Either way, it's delicious! And our kids even eat it, too. There's probably no reason you couldn't make this year-round, either, although you'd have to subsitute frozen corn for the fresh.

Ingredients

Chili

Hiking, History, and Nature at Olompali State Historic Park in Novato

August 11, 2014

Olompali Miwok VillageJust north of Novato, on the eastern slopes of Mount Burdell, lies Olompali State Historic Park. This gem of a local resource is often overlooked by families as they drive by on Highway 101, but it's well worth a visit. With miles of hiking trails, historic sites spanning 8,000 years of human habitation, and sweeping views of the Petaluma River Valley, Olompali has much to offer for visitors of all ages.

The story of Olompali starts with the Coast Miwoks, who lived on the site for thousands of years. Olompali was one of the primary Miwok settlements in Northern California until the 1850s. At the park, you'll find evidence of their presence here in the form of a "Kitchen Rock", a large stone used as a mortar by the Miwok people to grind acorns and seeds, and a reconstructed village with redwood bark and tule reed kotchas—traditional Coast Miwok dwellings. There's also a native plant garden with educational panels describing how the Miwok used each plant for food or medicinal purposes.

Spend a Day on the Farm at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma

August 10, 2014

Tara Firma FarmsPetaluma's Tara Firma Farms is a family-run farm that produces humanely raised chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cattle on 300 acres just across the Sonoma County line. In addition to raising and selling their products, they're committed to educating the public about life on the farm, healthy food, and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

Tara Firma farms offers free farm tours on weekends at 10 am, noon, and 2 pm. The tours are a fantastic farm experience for parents, kids, and anyone who wants to get an up-close-and-personal look at where their food comes from. Come experience the sights, sounds, and, yes, smells of the farm first-hand!

Tara and Craig Smith were inspired to start the farm in 2009 after reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and modeled their operation off of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm, which is prominently featured in the book. Today you can purchase their products at local farmer's markets, their on-site farm store, and through their popular CSA membership program, which includes their meats and eggs as well as produce and dairy products from other local organic producers.

Theater for Young Audiences Returns to Marin Theatre Company for 2014-2015

August 9, 2014

Children's theater at Marin Theatre CompanyThis year, Marin Theatre Company (MTC) and Bay Area Children's Theater (BACT) team up again to present another season of fantastic live theater for young audiences. The 2014–2015 series features four exciting BACT productions: Five Little Monkeys, James and the Giant Peach, Three Little Birds, and Fancy Nancy, the Musical!, as well as an original MTC production of Around the World in 80 Days.

This season kicks off with Five Little Monkeys, which runs from August 30 through September 7. Based on the picture book series by Eileen Christelow, Five Little Monkeys follows the adventures of the titular simian siblings as they make a birthday cake for mama, meet up with a crocodile, and disappear in the store. Of course there's plenty of jumping, too. The play (all in rhyme, by the way) is recommended for ages 2 to 7 and runs 45 minutes.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for August 8, 9 & 10

August 8, 2014
The Gravenstein Apple Fair takes place this weekend in Sebastopol. Photo: Gravenstein Apple Fair.

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 8

  • Sonoma County Fair
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 am–11 pm

    It's the final weekend for the Sonoma County Fair, which 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: Pi Clowns
    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. Nobody takes being silly as seriously as the Pi Clowns. Blending mime, theater, acrobatics, juggling, and improvisation, the Pi Clowns deliver amazing and original clown vignettes. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Family Date Nights: Blues Whale
    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: Blues Whale, a funky jam band from the Marin Headlands, plays a variety of classic covers from Muddy Waters to the Beatles, along with originals.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.
  • Marinwood's Music in the Park Series
    Marinwood Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Marinwood’s most popular event is back! Enjoy Friday evenings in the park, featuring live music with the the Cosmo Alley Cats, delicious food by Marinwood Market, wine and beer. Cost: Entry is free; food, wine, and beer may be purchased. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Closing Night! Creekside Fridays Music Series
    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: Tam Valley All Stars. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Marin Shakespeare Company: As You Like It
    Forest Meadows Amphitheater, San Rafael
    Friday, 8 pm, Saturday, 9 pm
    & Sunday, 8 pm
    These are "Pay as You Like It" performances—donations of any amount accepted. Sunday's show is the closing performance of As You Like It. Performances take place at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, 1475 Acacia Avenue (at Grand Avenue). For more info, visit their website.
  • Film Night in the Park: I Am Sam
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Friday, 8 pm

    Film Night in the Park presents a large-screen outdoor presentation of I Am Sam (PG-13) at Creek Park in San Anselmo. Popcorn, candy and sodas will be sold. Bring blankets, pillows, backrest and low chairs. Film Night suggests leaving pets at home. Free. Donations greatly appreciated. Location: 451 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, August 9

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    This Saturday, Kid's Love to Cook! Hands On Cooking Demonstration from 10:30-11:30 am. Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, face kids' crafts from 9 am–2 pm, music featuring Miss Kitty 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.
  • Family Bird Walk at Olompali
    Olompali State Historic Park, Novato
    Saturday, 9–11 am

    Birdwatching is a wonderful family activity! We will see permanent and seasonal residents, some of whom have flown thousands of miles to raise their families in this lovely corner of the world. With sharp senses and a bit of luck, we will see fledglings and some early migrants. Families with young children are encouraged to attend. $8 per car for parking; event is free. Please note the new park entrance from Atherton Avenue/Redwood Boulevard. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gravenstein Apple Fair
    Ragle Ranch Park, Sebastopol

    Saturday, 10 am–6 pm and Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Come and celebrate a time when neighbors gathered to share home baked food, listen to some of the locals sing a tune, and learn a few farming skills. Brimming with tradition, this country fair showcases the Gravenstein apple and the experience of an old time country get together. Enjoy farming displays, a children's corner with crafts, music, and a magician, and more. Admission $15 general, $10 youth 6–12, free for children under 5. The Gravenstein Apple Fair takes place at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol, at 500 Ragle Road. For more info, visit  www.gravensteinapplefair.com.
  • World Lion Day
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Come celebrate the zoo's amazing pride of lions all weekend, and see what you can do to help this species. Enjoy a video about our big cats, face-painters, and an educational bio-fact cart, Safari Lion Bounce House and see a fun puppet performance by Jungle Joe near Lion Fountain. Zoo admission applies. For more information, visit their website.

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:

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