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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Boston Harbor Islands - Spectacle and George

 One of the hidden gems of Boston are the Boston Harbor Islands. If you have an extra day (or half day) on your trip, consider going. There are 34 islands in all, 24 with archeological activity on them. Not shockingly, Native Americans used these islands before we settlers did, for hunting, farming and other activities. You can visit 12 of the islands.
boston harbor
Even their recent history is interesting. The country's oldest lighthouse was first built here in 1716, though the British burned it down  in 1776 and rebuilt in 1783. That makes our own Sandy Hook lighthouse (built in 1764) the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. You can tour the lighthouse on Little Brewster Island on a different boat tour, along with two other lighthouses.

The popular Spectacle Island is only a 15 minute boat ride from Boston's Long Harbor. On the way, they gave us interesting information about the islands, which are a National Park area (though the boats are an outside vendor). If you flew into Boston, you'll likely have come into Logan Airport, also known as General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport, named after a Spanish-American War officer who had obviously never been on a plane. More relevant, though, is that Logan takes landfill from three of the Boston Harbor islands: Governor's, Noddle's, and Apple Islands. Planes land on average every 30 seconds, and we saw quite a few overhead on our boat ride.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coming Up: Spamalot Theater


Are you a Spamalot movie fan? The Peninsula premier of the Broadway Spamalot show is coming to Foster City.

"Lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL,SPAMALOT retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and features a bevy of beautiful show girls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits, and French people. Did we mention the bevy of beautiful show girls?"

The show runs 120 minutes.

When: August 30-September 22
Where: Hillbarn Theater, 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd. Foster City
Cost: $23-38 for adults. For tickets for students 17 and under, please call 650-349-6411. Click here for tickets and info.


Coming Up: Barn Dance in Portola Valley

Celebrate the coming grape harvest with a picnic and barn dance - square dancing with a live caller and string band. Kids are welcome.

What: Barn Dance at Portola Vineyards
When: Sunday, September 1, picnic at 5, dancing 6-8
Where: Portola Vineyards, 805 Los Trancos Road, Portola Valley
Cost: $15 here
InfoGet details here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Harpoon Brewery Tour - Boston

After touring the Sam Adams brewery in Boston (review here), I heard about Harpoon Brewery, another local stop. Fortunately for me, it was just down the street from the Seaport Hotel where we were staying in the trendy Seaport area.  This time I did not go and drink alone, but rather went with my husband who had just finished a week-long course on immunology, and clearly needed a very big beer. By the way, this is part of our Boston series
**And if you like factory tours, check out our post on Bay Area factory tours, which includes local brewery Anchor Steam!
Harpoon 5
The plan was to take a tour of Harpoon, hang out in their brew pub and then head to the airport a few hours later. Unfortunately, we arrived around 1:30, but the tours were already sold out until 4:30 or later (a common occurrence apparently). Oh well. Fortunately they had a very large bar and rows of long wooden farm tables to park ourselves, though the waitress kept walking right past us (or not at all - it WAS busy and a Friday afternoon) that I finally had to go to the bar to order from there.
Harpoon 7
I'll tell you a little about the brewery first, 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coming Up: National LEGO KidsFest Tour

The LEGO KidsFest is coming to San Jose, with interactive, creative and educational activities for the family! There will be hands-on educational fun for all ages: LEGO & DUPLO Construction Zones, dozens of large-scale and miniature LEGO models and displays, LEGO Games, group builds, LEGO Master Builders, and much more. See a list of activities here.

Where: San Jose Convention Center (150 West San Carlos Street)
When: August 30-September 1 (Friday through Sunday). You get tickets for a 4.5 hour time slot.
Tickets: Get them here. They're $19 for kids 3-17, and $21 for 18+. Free for kids 2 and under.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Sam Adam Brewery Tour - Boston

While I've been to Boston a number of times, I'd never gone on the Sam Adams brewery tour. It's free, with a suggested $2 donation which goes to charity. Here's what I learned on the tour! And by the way, this is part of my Boston series, and I'll be doing a post on Harpoon Brewery as well - another Boston tour stop.
sam adams1
 I read about how popular this tour could be, and how in summer and on weekends it could fill up really quickly. Since I had another agenda for the day, I got there in time for the first tour of the day - a weekday at 10 a.m. By 10:30, I was swilling beer. And hadn't had breakfast. You should eat breakfast first.   

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coming Up: Treasure Island Flea Market

Check out the Treasure Island Flea Market this weekend! They're having world renown chalk artist Mark Wagner, creating live 3D art both days. You and the kids can get in on it too, by grabbing some chalk and doodling away.



In addition to the 300+ vendors, you'll find more than 20 food trucks, drinks (cocktails, wine and beer) and a great city view. And they just added a farmer's market, so you can get some fresh, local produce from 15 vendors.

When: last weekend of each month - August 24-25 - from 10-4
Where: Treasure Island
Cost: $3/person for those 13 and older. Free for 12 and under.
Other: free parking and pet-friendly

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Discounted Tickets: Funny Bubble Show, Ringling Brothers, Circus Vargas, A Chorus Line, Aquarium of the Bay, Tech Museum of Innovation

Goldstar has a bunch of family-friendly deals right now that I wanted to highlight.




The World's Funniest Bubble Show - at the Marsh in San Francisco on Sundays September 29 - October 27. Shows are at 11 a.m. Tickets are only $5.50.


The Ringling Brothers is coming to town. Goldstar has tickets from $10.50-$18.50 for the Oakland show, August 15-19 it will be in Oakland. August 21-26 it will be in San Jose ($11-$19.90), and August 29-September 2 it will be in Daly City (Cow Palace) -Goldstar tickets are $12-$19.50 for those shows on Goldstar (and higher elsewhere). Sorry the links aren't direct, but you can easily find them when you enter the site.

It's probably too late for this show, but you can sign up with them and get a free ticket for your baby 12 months and younger. However the Goldstar site says that lap children age 1 and under don't even need a ticket, so maybe it's not such a deal after all!



A Chorus Line is playing in Oakland. Not appropriate for all ages, of course, I took my daughter this year (when she was 11) and she loved it, giggling at a few of the lyrics. Tickets are available August 9-18 on Goldstar for $14.50-$23.


Aquarium of the Bay is offering some deals on Goldstar. Get tickets for $6.48-$11 instead of $13-$22. There is a $3 service fee, but even with that you'll save a $3-9 dollars per ticket. The aquarium is at Pier 39.



If you like circuses, Circus Vargas is coming to San Jose in September. Tickets on Goldstar are $12.50-$17.50 (half off).

The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose continues to offer discounted tickets for $7.50 (weekdays) and $10 (weekends) on Goldstar ($15 retail). We love this place! Even with the $3 service fee, you will still come out ahead.

Roller derby (this is our review)! This is our new favorite sport.For $11 (half off) you guys will have a fabulous evening watching women roll around the rink, elbow each other and race for first place, all while dressed in funky clothes. See the Bay Bombers in action in San Jose. Get tickets here for August matches in Santa Clara, and here for September matches in Santa Cruz.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coming Up: Grease!

If you love Grease anywhere as close to how much I love Grease, you'll want to head over to one of the Retrodome's four showings.



-Thursday, August 22 at 7 p.m. - Camera 7 - Pruneyard in Campbell
-Friday, August 23 at 7 p.m. - Camera 12 - downtown San Jose
-Saturday, August 24 at 3 p.m. - Camera 12 - downtown San Jose
-Sunday, August 25 at 3 p.m. - Camera 7 - Pruneyard in Campbell

Admission includes a pack of props to go with the movie, plus giveaways during the film and an interactive pre-show with contests and trivia. They encourage you to come in costume!


Coming Up: Hidden Villa Crafts in Palo Alto

This weekend, join Hidden Villa in downtown Palo Alto, for farm fun. This local farm and wilderness education organization is joining with Bay Area farmers, artists and animals at C is for Craft, to help you create crafts inspired by the farm landscape. That includes tissue paper flower collages, printmaking using natural materials and felting with sheep's wool.

Where: 540 Bryant Street
When: Saturday, August 24 for three one hour sessions (10:15-11:15, 11:30-12:30, and 12:45-1:45).
Fee: $7 for one child, or $10 for two children. Adults are free with a registered child, as are kids 2 and under.
RSVP: sign up here
More info: call 650-949-9702 or here


Monday, August 19, 2013

Coming up: Yoshi's Jazzfest


Get out in the sunshine for a free afternoon of jazz at Yoshi's Jazzfest at Jack London Square. Performers include Julian Coryell Trio, Dos Four, Salvador Santana, and the Oakland Jazz Workshop Performance Ensemble. Bring your own picnic, or buy food there.

Where: Jack London Square, Oakland
When: Sunday, August 25 from noon-5
Cost: Free


Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Attractions in Boston CityPASS

I recently spent a week in Boston while my husband was at a conference and my kids were at camp. My goal was to do as much touring as possible (in addition to seeing some family and friends). Last time we were there as a family, we contemplated getting a CityPASS, which gives you admission into five attractions for about half the price of paying individually. We ended up not going that route last time, but CityPASS was kind enough to give me one to try this time. Between the two trips, I've now been to all six attractions offered by CityPASS (five are included - and for one, you have a choice between a free visit to one of two museums, and a discount at the other). This is the first in a series on Boston.

Here's a review of all six attractions.

Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center


While we tried to go to the Skywalk at the Prudential Center last trip, it was closed for a private function. And you'll want to go on a clear day. I made it this time, and thought it would be very touristy, but I ended up loving it. It's the tallest building in Boston (perhaps all of New England), at 50+ stories up. Included are

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coming Up: Take the Field at AT&T Park

If you have any baseball fans in the house, check out Take the Field at AT&T Park on Saturday, August 17. The event raises money for Coaching Corps, a locally-based nonprofit dedicated to bringing coaches and sports to kids in low-income communities

Take the Field, an event hosted by Coaching Corps, will feature:

·         The Sports Zone: Base-running and other sports games
·         The MVP Corner: Meet legendary coaches and athletes like Tony La Russa, Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson and more
·         The Major League Access Pass: Ballpark tours and the chance to take photos in the dugout and with the Giants’ World Series trophies
·         The Splash Hits Derby: Watch as some aspiring hitters step up to the plate (in the outfield) in an attempt to hit a ball out into McCovey Cove.

Where: AT&T Park

When: Saturday, August 17, 1-5

Cost: $5 suggested donation

Monday, August 12, 2013

Please Vote for Frisco Kids

Voting ends Tuesday at 4 p.m. for the Circle of Moms Top 25 NorCal Moms blog contest. At posting time, Frisco Kids is #12. It would be awesome if you could take 10 seconds (really, it's quick) to vote. No registration, no email required. Just click "vote" in the little heart in a circle. You can vote once every 24 hours, so it's possible you can vote for Frisco Kids today AND tomorrow. Use one of the highlighted links in the text, or click on the icon below. Thanks!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Get 'Yer Tickets: Re-Make

Are you creative? Do you make things? If so, get in on Re-Make, a two day event for makers and creators, though it's probably best to request an invite early. It's sponsored by Brit & Co. and features 3-D printmaking, learning about how technology is revolutionizing creative work, cocktails and more. Day 1 includes the speakers below (more to come).

Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and Founder of DIY Drones
Emily Henderson, Winner of HGTV Design Star and Host of Secrets from a Stylist
Randi Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media
Maxine B├ędat, Co-Founder of Zady
Joy Deangdeelert Cho, Founder and Editor of Oh Joy!
Bridget Dolan, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Sephora
Jennifer Hyman, Founder and CEO of Rent the Runway
Susan Gregg Koger, Co-Founder of ModCloth
Melody McCloskey, Founder and CEO of StyleSeat
Aubrie Pagano, Founder and CEO of Bow & Drape
Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru


Day 2 includes vendors.

When: October 4-5
Where: San Francisco
Cost: $99 for day 1 (until 8/15), then $199. Free pass for day 2.
To request an invitation to day one, click here. To get a free pass for day two, click here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: iPad Covers - and a Giveaway

Ever since I got an iPad, I've been collecting iPad covers. At first I needed one just to keep the front protected and to help prop it up. Then I wanted to bring it to a conference and wanted a keyboard. The list kept going. Here are four iPad covers I own and am reviewing, and I have some below that I'm giving away. Rules at the bottom.

This Aduro Facio case with bluetooth removable keyboard is what I got when I was heading out to a conference. This was a blogging conference, where everybody had multiple devices and they were checking Facebook, Twitter, email and lord knows what else, at all times of the day. So the fact that my iPad cover and keyboard got so much attention says something. The keyboard is detachable (as you can see) and it fits on magnetically as well. The keyboard is a good size - not too small. When charged, it goes for something like 120 hours without needing recharging. I haven't recharged mine yet. I love it. It comes in several color combinations - mine is red and grey. It's not too heavy.




The nice folks at Speck Handy Shell

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Make your Life as a Parent Easier in the SF Bay Area

I've been coming across a lot of things lately that can make your life as a Bay Area parent easier. Have you used any of these? Please post here if you do, or if you have your own to add.

RedRover - this free app lets you discover great events and activities to do with your kids, from your phone (helpful while you're out running around). You can search by date, location, kids' ages, interests or what's popular. Plus it suggestions for nearby places to shop and eat - perfect when you want to grab a bite to eat before or after your activity. We partnered with RedRover and are providing some of the events you see on Frisco Kids, on RedRover. Check it out. It's only on Apple products for now. You can get it here or access it via your computer.

Nextkids is opening in San Francisco. This is a workspace for parents, with attached childcare. There used to be a few places like this (like Cubes and Crayons which no longer is open).

Like going to the spa but hate finding a sitter? Spruce Salon and Spa just opened in Oakland, and they have babysitting on site.

Are you going into San Francisco during a festival, for work or just a night out, and worried about finding a parking place? Check out Park Please, a website/app where locals can list their private parking spots and you can find a spot that might be available and even cheaper than lots. You can guarantee your spot, which makes life much less stressful. I haven't yet tried this system, so please let me know your thoughts if you do!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Coming Up: Discounted Ringling Brothers, Chorus Line, Aquarium of the Bay, Circus Vargas, Tech Museum, Roller Derby and more

Goldstar has a bunch of family-friendly deals right now that I wanted to highlight.


The Ringling Brothers is coming to town. Goldstar has tickets from $10.50-$18.50 for the Oakland show, August 15-19 it will be in Oakland. August 21-26 it will be in San Jose ($11-$19.90), and August 29-September 2 it will be in Daly City (Cow Palace) - Goldstar tickets are $12-$19.50 for those shows on Goldstar (and higher elsewhere).

It's probably too late for this show, but you can sign up with them and get a free ticket for your baby 12 months and younger. However the Goldstar site says that lap children age 1 and under don't even need a ticket, so maybe it's not such a deal after all!



A Chorus Line is playing in Oakland. Not appropriate for all ages, of course, I took my daughter this year (when she was 11) and she loved it, giggling at a few of the lyrics. Tickets are available August 9-18 on Goldstar for $14.50-$23.


Aquarium of the Bay is offering some deals on Goldstar. Get tickets for $6.48-$11 instead of $13-$22. There is a $3 service fee, but even with that you'll save a $3-9 dollars per ticket. The aquarium is at Pier 39.



If you like circuses, Circus Vargas is coming to San Jose in September. Tickets on Goldstar are $12.50-$17.50 (half off).

The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose continues to offer discounted tickets for $7.50 (weekdays) and $10 (weekends) on Goldstar ($15 retail). We love this place! Even with the $3 service fee, you will still come out ahead.

Roller derby (this is our review)! This is our new favorite sport. For $11 (half off) you guys will have a fabulous evening watching women roll around the rink, elbow each other and race for first place, all while dressed in funky clothes. See the Bay Bombers in action in San Jose. Get tickets here for August matches in Santa Clara, and here for September matches in Santa Cruz.