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
  • 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
  • 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:

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


  • 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.

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