Easy and Delicious Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick's Day

March 15, 2017

Slow-cooker corned beef and cabbageSt. Patrick's Day is coming up, and for many that means it's time to cook that quintessential Irish-American dish: corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef—usually a tough cut of meat like brisket or round—requires long, slow, cooking over low heat to make it tender, so it's the perfect candidate for preparing in your slow cooker.

Start your corned beef in the slow cooker early in the day; there's a minimal amount of preparation involved. Some recipes call for adding most of the vegetables at the same time, but I think they turn out a bit overcooked. Instead, add them to the pot during the last two hours of cooking.

With the proliferation of vegetables cooked with the meat, there's something here for everyone in the family. Serve your corned beef accompanied by grainy mustard, horseradish sauce*, and gravy** made from the cooking liquid. Also, when it comes to corned beef, bigger is better. Much of the weight of the meat is water, and it shrinks in size during cooking, so budget about one pound of meat per diner for a generous serving and leftovers (think corned beef sandwiches… mmm…). This recipe serves about 4 people, depending on how hungry everybody is.

Mompreneur: Sarah Bradford and LUNA Center

March 13, 2017

LUNA Pre & Postnatal Fitness + Wellness Center

Marin native Sarah Bradford is the founder and operator of LUNA Center, a unique pregnancy and postpartum fitness studio located at 1165 Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur. She took the time out to answer a few questions for us about herself, her business, her family, and why she loves working and living in Marin.

Please tell us a little about yourself, what’s your background?

My name is Sarah Bradford, and I am the Founder of The LUNA Center. I am a Marin County native and grew up in Kentfield, and my husband is from San Anselmo. Together we have a beautiful 19-month-old son and two dogs.

Find a Bargain at the Novato Mothers Club Kid's Rummage Sale, Saturday, March 18

March 13, 2017

Novaot Mothers Club Rummage Sale

Don’t miss the 2017 Novato Mothers Club Rummage Sale! This huge rummage sale takes place on Saturday, March 18, from 9 am to 3 pm. You can literally get everything you need for your family: cribs, strollers, children’s clothing, maternity wear, toys, books, shoes, nursing items, and more. It's a favorite shopping event for Marin families. The sale will close from 1:30 to 2 pm. After 2 pm everything will be 50% off!

The Novato Mothers Club Rummage Sale will take place at the Downtown Novato Recreation Center, located at 950 Seventh Street, off Grant Avenue, in downtown Novato (adjacent to the Novato Gymnastics Center). Admission to the rummage sale and parking are free. Cash only.

Get Your Garden Started with a Trip to the Petaluma Seed Bank

March 12, 2017

Petaluma Seed Bank

This time of year always has a way of making us ready for the warm days of spring and summer, especially after the warm weather preview we got last week. And of course with those thoughts of warm months come dreams of our spring and summer vegetable garden! For the last few years, we've really made an effort to put in a substantial vegetable garden in our backyard. The children love to help pick out the seeds, plant them, water the plants, and pick the vegetables (and eat them, too), so it's a fun, educational, and tasty experience for them. We also like the fact that we get to eat our own organically grown veggies!

Our first task of the season is to go get our seeds. We try to go the heirloom route—they're so much more fun than your plain old (ahem) garden variety vegetables—and we always buy our seeds at the Petaluma Seed Bank, the West Coast outpost of the fantastic Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri. They stock a vast array of seeds for a wide variety of vegetables, many of which you probably didn't know existed!

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve

March 12, 2017

Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve Novato

While not as iconic, renowned, or tall as southern Marin's Mount Tamalpais, Novato's Mount Burdell offers its own kind of charm and appeal for families looking for an easy outdoor outing. Mount Burdell Open Space preserve boasts plenty of wide fire roads and trails that are perfect for a hike with small children. Those after more challenging treks can head uphill and look for the seasonal Hidden Lake, hike to the top of the 1,558-foot peak for amazing views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and even drop down into neighboring Olompali State Historic Park.

Wildflowers of all different colors are beginning to make an appearance, and seasonal streams burble and splash their way down the hilside. Keep an eye open for birds of all sorts, including red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and wild turkeys, as well as a variety of colorful butterflies. Late winter and early spring is really a magical time of year here!

Marin Weekend Family Fun for March 10, 11 & 12

March 11, 2017

Try one of the 6 spectacular spring wildflower hikes for families in Marin this weekend.

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 throughout the Bay Area in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, March 10

  • Just Between Friends Kids Consignment Sale
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
    Friday, 9 am–8 pm, Saturday, 9 am–3 pm and Sunday, 9 am–2 pm

    Just Between Friends bills itself as the North Bay's largest kids and maternity consignment sale, and offers toys, clothing, outdoor gear, mommy supplies, furniture, and more. Cash, checks, and credit and debit cards accepted. There's a $3 admission charge on Thursday and $2 charge on Friday, but you can get in for free by registering for a pass in advance. The offer two sales each year: one in the spring and then another in the fall. Address: Grace Pavilion, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Special Exhibit: Rainforest Adventure
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Rainforest Adventure
     is a multisensory expedition that introduces children to tropical rainforests around the world, highlights the challenges facing these unique ecological wonders, and suggests ways that people can make a difference. Learn more here. Cost: museum admission applies. Location: 557 McReynold Road, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Breakfast with Enzo
    Sports Basement, San Francisco Presidio
    Friday, 10 & 11 am

    Enzo Garcia plays guitar, banjo, accordion, musical saw, Jew's harp, enzotar, appalachian dulcimer, slide flute, percussion and more. Recommended for children 7 and under. Drop in any time. Cost: $15 for one child & $10 per each additional child siblings under 7 months free For more info, call (415) 652-2474 or visit his website.
  • Early Childhood Open House
    Marin Waldorf School, San Rafael
    Friday, 11 am–noon

    Marin Waldorf School's early childhood program offers a nurturing environment filled with rhythm and wonder. The nature of our program ensures a strong sense of consistency, order and security - essential to the healthy development of the young child. Everything done in class has a purpose, instilling a sense of joy and care for every task. The atmosphere is homelike and the focus is on play and cultivating imagination. Outdoor playtime is scheduled every day, rain or shine. Come visit our beautiful classrooms and meet our early childhood teachers to learn more. RSVP online or call (415) 479-8190 for more info. Marin Waldorf School is located at 755 Idylberry Road, San Rafael 94903.
  • French Storytime (L'Heure du Conte)
    San Anselmo Library
    Friday, 11–11:30 am

    For children of all ages and their parent or caregiver. Talk, sing, read, and play together. Share books, stories, rhymes, music in French. No registration required. Parents/caregivers are expected to stay with children during all storytime sessions. Free. Location: 110 Tunstead Avenue, Council Chambers, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Throckmorton Youth Performers: Oliver
    Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley
    Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2 pm

    Throckmorton Youth Performers deliver a heart-warming, unforgettable performance the whole family will enjoy! Join us on this wild adventure through Victorian England Lionel Bart's classic musical based on Charles Dickens' novel, Oliver Twist.Tickets. $15–$35. Location: 142 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • North Bay Rep: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    San Rafael Community Center
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 pm & Sunday, 5 pm

    Join director Sharon Boucher and other local youth and adult actors for North Bay Reps production of Beauty and the Beast! The classic story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. Tickets: $20 per person. Purchase tickets here. Location: 618 B Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • You're a Good Man Charlie Brown: The Musical
    College of Marin Performing Arts Building
    Friday & Saturday, 7:30 pm and Sunday, 2 pm
    Here's the whole Peanuts gang on stage! Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and of course, Charlie Brown's best pal, Snoopy the Beagle. The play deals with a day in the life of Charlie Brown - from bright, uncertain morning to hopeful, starlit evening! Bring the whole family! Directed by James Dunn. Musical Direction by Paul Smith. This runs from March 3–19. March 3 production-pay what you will preview. Tickets for other nights: $25, seniors $20 and COM Associates $15. Purchase tickets online here. Location: 835 College Avenue, the James Dunn Theatre, Kentfield. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, March 11

  • Just Between Friends Kids Consignment Sale
    Saturday, 9 am–3 pm and Sunday, 9 am–2 pm
    (see Friday for details)
  • Spring Toddler Days
    Slide Ranch, Muir Beach
    Saturday, 9 am–noon
    A popular day at the farm for families with toddlers and babies! Enjoy milking a goat, holding a warm, freshly-laid chicken egg, and hearing the baa of our sheep, as we use all of our senses to explore the farm during this family-friendly farm day. Fee: $25 per person; children 23 months and under are free. Please select the quantity of tickets you'd like to purchase before adding to cart. Purchase tickets here. Location: 2025 Shoreline Hwy, Muir Beach. For more info, visit their website.
  • Broom Busters Work Day – 20th Anniversary Celebration
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Come celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Old St. Hilary’s Broom Busters. Come learn about the importance of invasive species removal and lend a hand! All ages are welcome; anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a supervising adult. Dress in layers you can get dirty, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water. Please bring gloves if you have them.  Snacks, lunch, and extra water will be provided. RSVP's are appreciated but not required. Questions or to RSVP: Contact Volunteer Coordinator Greg Reza at  (415) 473-3778. Location: Meet at the gate at the end of Vistazo West St in Tiburon. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Family Fitness Class
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 9–9:55 am
    Join Coach Tilda for a fun workout for the whole family!  Geared towards kids of all ages and their families, class if filled with games, activities and exercises that are safe, fun and challenging for both kids and parents. No preregistration required. Just show up! Location 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Camp Fair
    Dominican University of California, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–1 pm

    Explore a variety of summer camps at this Saturday's Marin Camp Fair. Fun for everyone, with free pizza, fun prizes for kids, face painting and a bounce house, as well as representatives from dozens of summer camps. This year will also feature a visit from the Disney princesses from Once Upon a Song. Location: Conlan Center Gymnasium, 1475 Grand Avenue, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Little Folkies Family Band Spring Concert
    Mill Valley Golf Course Clubhouse
    Saturday, 10 am

    Bring your whole family dance and sing along to your Little Folkies favorites and a repertoire of fun, old, traditional tunes played by the Little Folkies Family Band with fiddle, banjo, guitar and the old-time winter spirit! Tickets: $17 adults, $12 children. Location: 280 Buena Vista Ave, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Junior Chef Classes: Easter Cookies
    Williams Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am

    Join us for an exciting class all about Easter Cookies! We’ll teach you how to make and then decorate cookies that will almost be too beautiful to eat!   Suitable for ages 8–13. Free. Call the store to reserve your spot: (415) 924-6799. For more info, visit their website.
  • San Francisco Summer Resource Fair
    County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    The Fair features 200 exhibitors from organizations that offer summer programs, classes, camps, and other services for children and youth ages 0–24. Many of the exhibitors will host activities at their tables, the SF Rec & Park Department will host a range of sports, arts and crafts, and other play stations, the SF Public Library will give away books, and Play-Well TEKnologies will work with attendees to build a model of the city of San Francisco out of LEGOs! Location: County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park, 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pixie Park Open House
    Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon

    Open Houses are a great way to learn about the history of Pixie Park and what it means to belong to this co-op playground. The new member open house is conducted in a casual environment where you can speak to a board member about the benefits and responsibilities of being a Pixie family, as well as ask questions and meet other prospective families. After learning about the park, interested families can sign-up and receive their key. Location: 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Ross. For more info, visit their website.
  • Purim Celebration for Families with Young Children
    Easton Hal, Berkeley
    Saurday, 10:30 am–noon

    Join other families in a cozy and welcoming environment to celebrate this joyful Jewish costume holiday. We'll sing silly Purim songs and hear how brave Queen Esther saved the day, led by Rabbi Bridget and beloved Jewish songleader Isaac Zones. We'll also enjoy a hands-on service project, yummy Purim treats, and more. We encourage children and adults to come in costume. A silly hat or your shirt on backwards works great! Presented by Jewish Gateways. Register online here. Cost: $25 per family. Location: 2401 Ridge Road, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Theatre Association: Aladdin and His Wonderful, Magical Lamp
    Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
    Saturday, 10:30 am & 1 pm

    Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco presents Aladdin and His Wonderful, Magical Lamp at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco’s Marina district. Aladdin and His Wonderful, Magical Lamp tells the story of a poor street boy, Aladdin, in the ancient Arabia, who (with the help from 3 Genies, a dragon, a monkey, and his family) uses his wits to outsmart the evil and powerful magician, Jammal, and win the Princess Jasmine’s hand in marriage. Tickets: $15. For more info, visit their website.
  • STEAM Saturday
    San Rafael Public Library
    Saturday, 11 am

    Come to the San Rafael Library for STEAM powered stories, rhymes, songs, crafts, experiments, and sensory experiences for preschool children ages 3–6 and their caregivers. Registration required: register at the children’s reference desk or call at (415) 485-3322. Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: Grass Pals
    Presidio Officers' Club, San Francisco

    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm
    The Presidio’s Main Parade Ground is known for its lush grass. Come to the Presidio Officers’ Club to create a tiny friend with grass for hair. Best for kids aged 5 to 12 years. Drop-in anytime between 11 am and 4 pm. Free. Read about our visit to the Officers' Club here. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • LEGO Batman Movie Event
    Barnes & Noble, Corte Madera

    Saturday, 11–11:45 am
    At the finale for our three-month celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie, kids will be able to help Batman protect Gotham from the Joker by making their very own LEGO Batman Speedwagon! RSVPs are required for this event, due to space limitations; email crm2274@bn.com with your name, phone, and number of children to attend. Location: 313 Corte Madera Town Center. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fiber and Dye Family Day
    UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Come explore the wonderful world of plant-based fibers & dyes. There will be weaving demonstrations by the Golden Gate Weaving Guild, paper-making activities and natural dye sampling! Explore our exhibit and join us for this free hands-on family day for children and adults of all ages. Free after garden admission. Location: 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • St. Patrick's Day Parade
    Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11:30 am

    The 166th Annual San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is the West Coast’s largest event celebrating Irish history and culture. The Parade will start at the corner of Market and Second Streets where over a hundred colorful floats, Irish dance troupes and marching bands will wind their way to Civic Center Plaza. Following the parade, the Festival will be held at Civic Center Plaza, in front of City Hall. This year’s Festival features cultural and exhibitor booths, a healthy selection of Irish food and beverages, Irish dancing, live music, both contemporary and traditional, and activities for children including inflatable and mechanical rides and more. For more info, visit their website.
  • Young Performers Theater: Hansel and Gretel
    Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 1 & 3:30 pm

    With a bare cupboard and no food, out of desperation their stepmother contrives to leave Hansel and Gretel deep in the woods, to fend for themselves. Hansel and Gretel get caught by the Witch Wicked and fear they are doomed to be turned into gingerbread! With the help of their friends, they are able to outwit Witch Wicked and break her spell.  Come see this classic tale performed by kids for kids! This adventure is suitable for all ages!  Get your tickets today!!
     Tickets: $13.23. For more info and tickets, visit their website.
  • Music for Families: How to Build an Orchestra
    Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
    Saturday, 2 pm

    It’s a fun-filled afternoon for the whole family! Learn what makes the heart of the Symphony beat, enjoy music inspired by Lemony Snicket, works featured in Harry Potter, and come on a musical adventure where you and your family solve a whimsical, musical mystery. With audience participation and interaction with the musicians, learn about the symphony orchestra in new and fun ways. Come early to collect stamps in your musical passport and enjoy lobby activities such as the instrument petting zoo, coloring areas, and the conductor photo station. Recommended for ages 5 and older. Tickets: $13.50–$64. For more info, visit their website.

Six Sensational California Spring Break Getaways for Families

March 10, 2017

Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz

Spring Break for most public school students in Marin County takes place the week of April 10 to 14. Northern and Central California have no shortage of fantastic destinations for families—from the Pacific beaches to the High Sierra mountains, there's something for everyone! Here are our picks for six fantastic places to visit during Spring Break, all of which are only a few hours away from Marin and the Bay Area.

Santa Cruz

This laid-back seaside town about two hours from Marin boasts beautiful beaches and the world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which has been delighting visitors since 1907. You'll also find a surfing museum housed in an old lighthouse, an interactive visitor center for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nearby Roaring Camp Railroads, and even the Mystery Spot, a roadside attraction that seems to defy the very laws of physics.

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides on your Fruits and Vegetables 2017

March 9, 2017

I usually try to buy organic produce for my family because I'm very concerned about the dangers of pesticides used on fruits and vegetables. I recently read an article that discusses the dangers of pesticides and how they can adversely affect people, especially during periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects.

"Oliver!" Opens at the Throckmorton Theatre

March 9, 2017

Oliver!Left to right: Fergus Campbell as Fagin, Liev Bruce-Low as Oliver, Skylar Silvera as Nancy, Marco Lizzaraga as Bill Sikes. Photo:  Throckmorton Theatre

This weekend, Throckmorton Theatre and a cast of some of the Bay Area's most talented youth performers premiere their production of the Broadway classic musical Oliver! Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this Tony- and Olivier-Award-winning show is one of the few musicals to also win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

The streets of Victorian England come to life as Oliver, a malnourished orphan in a workhouse, escapes to London and find acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets led by the elderly Fagin. When Oliver is arrested for a theft he didn't commit, the benevolent victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes him in. Fearing for the safety of his hideout, Fagin employs the sinister Bill Sikes and the sympathetic Nancy to kidnap him back, threatening Oliver’s chances of discovering the true love of a family.

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