Fresh and Healthy Summer Garden Chili

July 10, 2016

summer chiliChili is one of those meals that can be on the hearty, heavy side and not something you necessarily want to serve 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) by omitting the ground turkey and doubling the amount of beans, corn, 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 substitute frozen corn for the fresh.



Hiking with Kids in Marin: Samuel P. Taylor State Park

July 10, 2016

Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, located off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just outside of the small San Geronimo Valley town of Lagunitas, is a favorite spot for outdoor recreation for Marin County families. Situated among towering redwoods, rushing creeks, and oak woodlands, the park really has something to offer for everyone. Samuel P. Taylor State Park boasts numerous family friendly trails, and some of the best and most accessible are located right near the park headquarters and main picnic areas.

The park is named after Samuel Penfield Taylor, who came to California during the 1849 Gold Rush, and went on to found the West Coast's first paper mill on the park site in 1856. The land that is now the park later—after the arrival of the railroad—played host to Camp Taylor, a popular resort that offered camping, a hotel, dancing, swimming, boating, and more to guests from the 1870s to the early 20th century.

Help Yourself Move Forward in Life With "Moments"

July 9, 2016

Moments book coverWhen it comes to personal happiness, sometimes we all could use a little inspiration. In her new book Moments: Magic, Miracles, and Martinis ($11.95, Turtle Spirit Press, 2016; 112 pages) local Marin author, mom, and tech company VP Amy Van Atta Slater shares the inspirational story of her unexpected journey to self awareness and the things she learned along the way.

Amy's story is personal and inspiring, and follows her struggles in the wake of her divorce and diagnosis with chronic Irritable Bowell Syndrome (IBS), as well as her role as a single parent and her father's battle with Lewy Body Dementia. Along the way, she shares how she learned to deal with each of these obstacles to make her journey a life-changing one. Some of the points she touches on that really resonated with me was her personal challenge to not complain about anything for 24 hours (try it some time—it's harder than it sounds!), slowing down and appreciating life, being authentic in your life and dealings with other people, gratitude for what you have in life, and what it means to really be happy.

Moments is a short and easy read, but dense with inspirational moments. You'll probably find yourself flipping back through it to re-read parts that are relevant to what's currently going on in your life. As a mom and fellow Marin resident, much of what Amy writes about in Moments really resonates with me, even if our lives aren't that similar. It's a highly recommended read for anyone looking for a little inspiration during moments of uncertainty in life. You're not going through it alone!

Marin Family Weekend Fun for July 8, 9 & 10

July 7, 2016

Flower Piano returns to the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

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 8

  • Flower Piano
    San Francisco Botanical Garden
    Friday–Sunday, 7:30 am–6 pm

    Visitors are encouraged to seek out the twelve pianos tucked among the many flower-filled gardens within the Garden's 55 acres and play what they like, from chopsticks to Tchaikovsky. On weekend days, professional pianists and a whole host of other musicians will be scheduled to perform as well, and the public is welcome to watch and listen. Free after admission. Location: 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Children's Garden Series: Red Panda Acrobats
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am & 12:15 pm

    This free event is part of the Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Combining exceptional athletic skills, traditional Chinese music, dazzling costumes, and a fast-paced show sure to amaze viewers of all ages, the Red Panda Acrobats bring the ancient art of Chinese acrobatics into the 21st century with jaw-dropping displays of strength, balance, and dexterity. This show will take place on the Esplanade. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. The café offers a delicious prix-fixe menu and specialty cocktails, and the Hamon Tower observation level is open until 8 pm. This Friday, Dance-Off: Swing 2 with Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday, the Lara Price Band performs blues. For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or 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 Friday, Vibrasón. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Marinwood's Music in the Park Series
    Marinwood Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Join us this summer for live music, food, and fun for the entire family at Marinwood Park! Enjoy delicious BBQ by Marinwood Market and a bar for the adults. Bring your picnic blanket and your appetite and kick off the weekend Marinwood-style. This Friday: Waterstrider. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Marin Summer Theater: Little Shop of Horrors
    San Marin High School, Novato
    Friday & Saturday, 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm

    A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical, Little Shop Of Horrors has devoured the hearts of theatre goers for over 30 years. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, and Aladdin) are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world. Tickets: $20 adults, $15 students and seniors; $25 reserved. Location: 15 San Marin Drive, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fairfax Theatre Company: Relativity! The Musical
    Fairfax Pavilion
    Friday & Saturday, 8 pm
    Fairfax Theatre Company presents Relativity! The Musical. Doors open at 7:30 pm; curtain at 8 pm. Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors and students, $10 kids 12 and under. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, July 9

  • Cotati Kids Day Parade & Festival
    Downtown Cotati
    Saturday, 7 am–2 pm

    The 24th annual Cotati Kids Day Parade & Festival kicks off with a free pancake breakfast from 7 to 9 am followed by a parade at 10 am that goes from Cotati City Hall to La Plaza Park. The festival includes a jump house, live music, entertainment by host Fiz-Nick Rick, free games and prizes, arts and crafts, and more. Free! For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, 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 live music from 11 am–12:30 pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free E-Waste Recycling
    Marin Civic Center VMA Parking Lot
    Saturday, 9 am–3 pm

    Bring your old computers, laptops, cellphones, telephones, printers and more at this weeken's free e-waste event. For more info, visit their website.
  • Circuit Craze
    Novato Library
    Saturday, 11 am–noon
    Come join us for a morning of simple science learning and fun for the whole family! We’ll have fun making simple circuit art projects together. Best for children of all abilities ages 4–10 with caregivers. Location: 1720 Novato Boulevard, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: Billowing Birdmobiles
    Presidio Officers Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm

    Drop in for imaginative craft-making based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage. Featuring different crafts every weekend! The Presidio is home to hundreds of bird species, from hummingbirds to Great Blue herons. Come design your own bird mobile and bring some of the Presidio’s birds home with you! Registration not required, but preferred. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Presidio of San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Wine Country Big Q
    Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma
    Saturday, 1–5 pm

    Everyone loves barbecue and some of the best pit masters will be here to serve you up a slice. Sample great “authentic” barbecued meats, world class wines, award-winning brews while enjoying great rock and blues music. Bring all of your senses to life as you wander amongst the teams to see, smell and taste mouthwatering barbecue. Location: 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Disney's The Little Mermaid
    Berkeley Playhouse
    Saturday, 1 & 6 pm, Sunday, noon & 5 pm

    Ariel has always dreamed of leaving her underwater kingdom to see what lies beyond the sea. When she falls in love with a handsome prince who lives on land, she's willing to give up everything to be with him. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney film. Tickets: $23–$60. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Sundown Safari
    Oakland Zoo
    Saturday, 5 pm–Sunday, 10 am

    Grab your tent, sleeping bag, your family, and a few friends and get ready for an overnight adventure at Oakland Zoo. This unique program includes dinner, a nighttime and morning guided tour of the zoo, a special behind the scenes, live animal presentations, interactive and educational activities, a Wildlife Theater show, a hot morning breakfast, and s’mores! For families with children ages 4 and up. Cost: $85 per person; $75 for zoo members. Location: 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland. For more info, visit their website.
  • Summer Nights: African Music
    Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael
    Saturday, 7–10 pm

    Bring a picnic, your blanket, low-backed lawn chairs, and dancing shoes—there's fun for the whole family! Food, beer, wine, soft drinks, and snacks will be available for purchase, and there's a playground available for supervised play and the art room will be open for coloring fun. This Saturday features Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, with food by Big Jim's BBQ and Kid Zone sponsored by DrawBridge. Cost: $20 members $23 general public advance, $28 at the door; kids 17 and under free. For more info or to purchase tickets, visit their website.

Wine Country Swimming Fun at Morton's Warm Springs

July 7, 2016

Morton's Warm Springs

Looking for a great family day trip this summer? Try heading to the Wine Country town of Glen Ellen for a day of swimming fun at Morton's Warm Springs Resort. Morton's Warm Springs is a family resort famous for its geothermally heated pools filled with natural mineral water. Long thought to have healing benefits, these spring waters have lent their name to numerous communities in the Sonoma area, including Boyes Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and Fetters Hot Springs.

Meet the Midwives of Marin on July 11

July 5, 2016

Midwives of MarinMoms-to-be planning to deliver their babies at Marin General Hospital can take advantage of the hospital's and Prima Medical Group's Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) for prenatal, labor and delivery, and postnatal care. A midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in pregnancy and delivery in low-risk, healthy women. The midwives at Marin General Hospital are all registered nurses with a MA in nursing or public health and are certified through the American College of Nurse-Midwives, which works in conjunction with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Marin General Hospital is in fact the only hospital in Marin or San Francisco that offers midwife services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you're interested, the hospital holds a series of one-hour informational meetings throughout the year. Midwives will share their philosophies and approaches, and review the services available when you choose to deliver your baby at Marin General Hospital.

An optional tour of Marin General Hospital Birth Center follows each meeting. Partners, family, and friends are of course welcome. Light snacks will be served. No fee or registration required. The next Meet the Midwives events take place Monday, July 11, from 7:15 to 8:15 pm. One more 2016 event takes place this fall on October 3.

All events are held in the Conference Center at Marin General Hospital. For more information call (415) 842-5107 or visit their website.

Planes, Air Museums, and Aviation Fun in the San Francisco Bay Area

July 5, 2016

Wings Over Wine Country Air Show

If your kids are obsessed with planes and flying machines, then take a family outing to one of these San Francisco Bay Area air museums, airshows, and other aviation destinations. Some of these places even include the opportunity to climb aboard and sit behind the controls of real historic aircraft, while others offer the chance to watch planes and helicopters in action in the air. There's something for all ages! Please keep in mind that hours and admission details can change, so check museum websites or call before you go.

Hamilton Field History Museum, Novato

Novato's Hamilton neighborhood was once the site of Hamilton Air Force Base, and still contains many historic structures from the its beginnings as an army airfield back in the 1930s. The Hamilton Field History Museum is housed in the old base fire station and displays memorabilia, aircraft models, and a World War II-era Link Trainer. Open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from noon to 4 pm. Admission is free. Location: 555 Hangar Avenue, Novato 94949.

All Aboard for a Day Out With Thomas!

July 4, 2016

Day Out With Thomas at Roaring Camp Railroads.

Is your child a Thomas the Tank Engine fanatic? If so, your chance to experience all things Thomas & Friends and even take a ride on a train drawn by Thomas the Tank Engine himself is coming this summer! Tickets are on sale now for Day Out With Thomas: The Ready, Set, Go Tour 2016, which takes place over two long weekends, July 29–31 and August 5–7, at Roaring Camp Railroads in the Santa Cruz Mountains town of Felton.

Watching the Fireworks in Marin

July 2, 2016

For families with young children, the ritual of watching 4th of July fireworks can be a little inconvenient. Babies and toddlers are often scared of the noise (if you're close enough to hear), the summer sunset at around 9 pm means most kids are up way past their bedtime. It's even worse if you decide to wake them out of a deep sleep in time to see the fireworks (trust me, I've been there). Nothing's quite as crabby and grumpy as an overtired child, no matter how great the fireworks are.

With this in mind, we've sought out places to watch the fantastic fireworks display at the Marin County Fair that don't involve leaving the car, so the little ones can doze in peace. Obviously you can just pay your $17 and go to the fair, but again, if you've got two sleeping children in the car, this isn't going to work. Neither is driving over near the fair—it's hard to see anything from the area along Civic Center Drive, and the resulting post-fireworks gridlock around the fairgrounds is pretty miserable.

On a friend's suggestion, we checked out a fireworks viewing spot up at the Unitarian Universalist Church parking lot, which is on Channing Way off Professional Center Parkway in Terra Linda. It's potetentially ideal, situated on a hill that overlooks the Marin County Fairgrounds. This wasn't bad, but the number of places where you could actually see anything was pretty limited and it became obvious that we weren't the only people there to see the fireworks—it's a pretty popular spot. Those people who could find a spot where they could see through the trees were treated to a spectacular view, though.

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