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Fresh and Healthy Summer Garden Chili

June 25, 2017

summer chili

Chili 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 a bit and take advantage of fresh summer produce like the zucchini growing in our backyard garden and sweet corn cut right off the cob.

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.

Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair Starts Today!

June 21, 2017

Sonoma-Marin Fair

Summertime is fair time, and the first fair of the season is usually Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds from Wednesday June 21 through Sunday, June 25. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is not quite but almost a county fair, and offers a wide range of fun and exciting attractions, competitions, events, and activities for the entire family.

This year's theme is "Great Eggspectations", and you'll find plenty of family fun including carnival rides with a kiddie carnival for younger children, pig races, a safari adventure, "Agventure Land" for agricultural fun, strolling clowns, jugglers, and silly characters, and artst and crafts and a petting zoo at Clo's Kids Corner. You'll also find livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too!

Cool Off This Summer with Melon Aguas Frescas

June 19, 2017

Watermelon agua fresca

When the weather warms up, one of the things we often cool off with are aguas frescas, those refreshing traditional Mexican-style drinks made from various kinds of fruit. You don't have to go to your local taqueria to get them, either—they're inexpensive and really easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they're a healthy alternative to sodas and other soft drinks.

We often make aguas frescas with melons like cantaloupe or watermelon; whatever we happen to have on hand. It's a great way to use up all that watermelon that's been sitting in the refrigerator, which is what we made out latest batch out of. You can use other fruits, like strawberries and even pineapple, but melon is an economical choice and a delicious one, too.

Homemade Snacks for Summer Road Trips

June 19, 2017

Popcorn trail mix

Marin Mommies presents a guest article from Elizabeth Leader Smith and Whole Foods Market.

When I was a child, my family frequently made long road trips to visit family members peppered around the Midwest. The novelty of pit stops at roadside convenience stores lost its luster early on. Instead my family hungered for wholesome foods we could feel good about eating while sitting in the car for long stretches.

By planning ahead, my mom was able to pack with the car with healthful snacks (often homemade) to get us through that stretch from Cleveland to South Bend or Chicago to Green Bay. Today I do the same thing making some and buying others. When I have time to prep ahead, I'll make easy and affordable snacks like Popcorn Trail Mix and other recipes for the road like these:

Family Fun at Marin County Beaches

June 18, 2017

Marin County Beaches

My family loves to go to the beach, and there are plenty of places to do this in and around Marin. While many of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are unsuitable for swimming, there are also many beaches that are ideal spots for swimming, wading, and splashing in the water, especially on warm summer (and also spring and fall) days. Here are some of our favorites. Click on the links for more info.

Awesome Ice Cream Shops in Marin & Beyond

June 18, 2017

Lala's Creamery Petaluma

Ice cream is one of those foods that's synonymous with summer, although it's pretty wonderful at any time of year! On a hot day, there's not much better than getting a big scoop of your favorite ice cream on a waffle cone. To help you find that summer joy, we've put together this guide to our favorite ice cream scoop shops in Marin County (and we've thrown in a couple of our Sonoma County favorites that are worth the trip, too).

Here they are, arranged from south to north. Many of these shops are family owned and operated, but we've included a few of the popular chains, too.

Summer Swim Lessons in Marin

June 13, 2017

Summer swim lessons

Summer is here and one of the season's time honored traditions for children is swimming lessons. Not only are swimming lessons a fun way to get some exercise and cool off on a hot summer day, but knowing how to swim is essential from a safety standpoint.

Below is our list of local Marin County providers of swimming lessons for children. Although many of the facilities listed are private clubs, unless otherwise indicated, all locations offer public lessons open to all. Most programs require pre-registration; follow the links or call to sign up or for more information.

Kentfield:

Larkspur:

Summer Challenge for Kids and Teens at the Marin County Library!

June 10, 2017

Kids Summer Challenge Marin Library 

It's hard to believe that it's already the end of the school years. You can keep the learning—and fun—alive this summer by participating in the Marin County Free Library's 2017 summer learning program. To participate in the Kids Summer Learning Challenge, all you have to do is visit your local branch of the Marin County Free Library, pick up a summer reading folder, and start reading.

Young readers will earn a Book Buck for each 100 minutes that they read or are read to. Book Bucks can then be redeemed for a variety of prizes, and kids who complete the Learning Challenge will get a Gold Medal Reader button. Participants can also donate their Book Bucks to the library's Giving Program; this year the Friends of the Library will donate a dollar to Marin Foster Care Association for every Book Buck donated.

Teens can participate in the 2017 Teen Summer Challenge, where they can earn scratcher tickets by checking out books, writing book reviews, and attending teen events a the library. More visits to the library mean more chances to win!

Water Parks in the San Francisco Bay Area

June 6, 2017

Water World in Concord

It seems like one of the summer rites of passage is piling into the car and heading to a water park, preferably one with thrilling water slides, for a day of fun in the sun. If you grew up in Marin or the North Bay surely you spent a summer afternoon or two at the long-gone Windsor Water Works north of Santa Rosa.

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