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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coming Up: Little Nemo - Free Movie for Kids

Roxie Theater in San Francisco (3117 16th Street) is showing the movie Little Nemo this Sunday, as part of their Roxie Kids free films. These are free for kids 12 and under ($7.50 for adults). They selected films to appeal to kids and adults - and not the typical Hollywood films either. These are more artsy. They want to expose kids and adults to more independent and foreign films.

This film is directed by Chris Columbus, who did Home Alone 2 and Harry Potter. Details about the show at the bottom.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Friendsgiving - the movie

Who do you spend Thanksgiving with? For us, it's usually my in-laws, and maybe some cousins and aunts and uncles too. This year it's with other cousins, and we'll be in New York City checking out the holiday festivities (but alas, not the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, because my kids don't want to get up early to wait in the cold to get a good spot).

Lots of people, though, spend the holiday with friends. I hadn't actually heard the name "Friendsgiving" until this year. Is it new or am I just out of it?

In any case, if you're looking for some friends-based shows and movies to watch this holiday weekend, we have a few suggestions for you.

Charlotte's Web - you read the book (perhaps to your kids) - now watch the movie.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends - this Cartoon Network show is from 2005. "When his mother doesn't believe in his best friend, a young boy takes him to Madame Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and they have fun adventures."

Do we think our kids would appreciate Saved by the Bell the way we did? Only one way to find out.

The pickings are awesome for the parents! Did you miss any of Desperate Housewives, the group of neighbors who were (sometimes) close friends? You can catch all eight seasons on Netflix.

And of course there's the Office. We saw the original British version first, so it was a bit hard at first to adjust to the new crew. But we adjusted just fine.

And great news for those who have WAY too much time on their hands - all 10 seasons of the awesome TV show Friends will be available on Netflix streaming, starting in January.

Thanks to Netflix for sponsoring this post!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bay Area Tree Lighting Ceremonies 2014

It's more exciting to watch a giant tree get lit up, than watch your own. So head to these tree lightings for some holiday fun.

What: Rec and Park's 85th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting
When: Thursday, December 4, time TBA (last year it was 4-8)
Where: McLaren Lodge, Golden Gate Park
Activities: TBA - last year they had train rides, live entertainment and Santa visits.

What: Union Square, Macy's 25th annual tree lighting
When: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 6 p.m. for the ceremony, actual tree lighting at 6:40
Where: Union Square
Activities: entertainment; it gets crowded so arrive early

What: Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting
When: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 5:30 (activities 4-9)
Where; Ghirardelli Square
Activities: live music, kids' entertainment, Santa visit

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gingerbread House Activities in the Bay Area - 2014

My kids are begging me for a gingerbread house kit again this year, but every year they start and don't finish it. And then they don't clean up. So I'm looking into other options. Fortunately the Bay Area has many.


The Mandarin Oriental is hosting "ho-ho-ho homes for the holiday" on Saturday, December 7, which includes gingerbread house making from 2-4. Kids get their own aprons and chef hats, decorating gingerbread houses and sugar cookies. For drinking, there's a hot chocolate bar (parents can hit the adult bar and get small plates on their own dime). Cost is $60/kid. RSVP at or call (415) 276-9784.
St. Francisco sugar tree. Photo by Peter Medilek

Not for your own making (okay, and not gingerbread), but check out the Westin St. Francis' 12 foot tall sugar tree. It has 1,000 pieces of hand-crafted candies and ornaments, including handmade snowmen, sugar ribbons, gift boxes, Christmas trees, candy canes, elves and stars in the rotating tree. It's in the lobby November 26-January 2, at 335 Powell in SF.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Up: Chick Tech Event - free

If you or someone you know has a high school age girl who is interested in technology, check out the Chick Tech 2014 High School Tech event this Sunday. The girls in the organization create their own tech project and will display them in workshops.

Chick Tech's goal is to close the gender imbalance in the technology industry. By showing these girls that coding is fun, this gives them fewer barriers as they decide what they want to pursue after high school.

The event is free

Where: **new location** 88 Colin P Kelly Jr. Street at Brannon, San Francisco
When: Sunday, November 23 from 4:15-5:30

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coming Up: Storytelling in Music with Joel Ben Izzy - free

The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is back with a fabulous FREE program for families: Storytelling in Music, with Joel ben Izzy.

This Bay Area storyteller has some tales to share, accompanied by music provided by the SFCO. This program features a reprise of last season’s Main Stage hit Luck or Wisdom?, a folktale paired with an energetic klezmer-style score by Stephen Saxon.

When/Where: Venue info here.
Saturday, November 22 at 2 p.m. - San Francisco Calvary Presbyterian Church
Sunday, November 23 at noon - Oakland Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Sunday, November 23 at 3:30 - San Mateo College of San Mateo Theatre

Coming Up: The Stumpers Book Launch

I don't write about a lot of book launch events, but this one seems very sweet. Local author and artist Karima Cammell created a book called the Stumpers, about the doll family she fashioned, below.

She also owns A Castle in the Air, a crafting store, which will host a fireside chat with her, as well as musician Laura Cortesi, followed by live music and a book signing (they'll be giving away a gift with every book purchase). Hot cider will be provided too. Stop by if you're available! I can see how kids (and adults) would be enchanted with this Stumper world.

You can see more about it on this YouTube video.

When: Thursday, November 20 from 5:30-7:30
Where: Castle in the Air, 1805 4th Street, Berkeley

Coming Up: Cars and Croissants - Free

If you or your kids are car enthusiasts, you'll want to head to Santana Row once a month to check out their program, Cars and Croissants (and if you have an exotic car, bring it). This is a monthly gathering for exotic car owners and car enthusiasts where the exotic cars are invited to park and display them on Santana Row Boulevard from Alyssum Lane to Tatum Boulevard, and hang out with other enthusiasts. The morning meet-up for coffee, croissants and cars drew 400 people and 60 cars during the first event and continues to grow in popularity. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Fourth Saturday of the month: November 22 and December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Monday, November 17, 2014

Make your home more energy efficient - save money for the fun things

While people who don't live in the Bay Area think of it as a warmer place (hey! It's California!) those who live here know that winters (and even summers) can be quite cool. And many of the homes are inefficiently insulated. I remember when we were moving to the Bay Area and stayed in several friends' homes and a hotel, and we froze each time in spite of the heat being cranked up. It was not fun!

That forced us to do a little thinking about how to make our new home more energy efficient so we could not only try to save the environment, but have more money to do fun things. When I was approached about doing this post for PG and E, it was a no brainer, since I'm a big proponent of saving energy.

Here are a few things I've done or recommend:

Seal the doors and windows
Are your doors and windows leaking out your warm air? If you're not getting new ones (those single pane windows with aluminum frames are terrible), then make sure any gaps are sealed. You can use weather stripping or liquid foam, both of which are economical.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Coming Up: Green Festival

Are you green? Do you want to be green? If so, head to the Green Festival today through Sunday at Fort Mason. You'll find vegan/vegetarian cooking demonstrations, educational activities for families/kids, music, entertainment, and 250 green businesses, including our friends from Schoola, plus clothing, jewelry, care products and artisan foods.

When: Friday from 12-6, Saturday and Sunday from 10-6
Where: Fort Mason (you can get shuttles from public transit)
Cost: $15/ticket at the door, but kids 16 and under are free. Get in free by bike, or if you're a member of Sierra Club, Global Exchange or Green America. Several other options for discounted tickets - details here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Coming Up: Science Saturday at Heron's Head Park SF

If you like spending time in nature with the kids, check out these Science Saturday afternoon events at the EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park:

Each Saturday from 12:30-3:30 pm, their trained naturalists and partners offer an engaging, hands-on and fun event perfect for young kids to adults. Each week is a different topic or theme.

November 15: EcoCenter Tour and Native Plant Walk
November 22: Sensational Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Where: Heron Head's Park, 32 Jennings Street, at the end of Cargo Way. See Google map here.
When: Saturdays from 12:30-3:30
Age: young kids to adults
More info: here

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Coming Up: Chocolate Salon

Who loves chocolate???? Go taste some chocolate under the guise of looking for holiday gifts. You know you want to. You can taste samples from any participants, including wine/spirits (for those of age). You can see the list of speakers/events here.

When: November 22 from 10-5
Where: Fort Mason Center Conference Building A, 1 Fort Mason
Tickets:  Adults: $20 (advanced purchase - recommended); $25 at the door (limited quantity available); Children ages 6-12: $10; Children under 6 are free (2 children per adult - each additional child under 6 is $10). Get Chocolate Salon tickets here.
What's included: all tasting and events are included with the entry

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Coming Up: Patchwork Show - Handmade Goods - Free

Start your holiday shopping, if you haven't already, at the Patchwork Show: Modern Makers Festival, at Jack London Square. It's their largest indoor festival showcasing an eclectic mix of handmade goods from local emerging artists, crafters and designers. From avid knitters to aspiring makers, you'll find more than 100 local independent vendors featuring art, knits, clothing, ceramics, garden finds, paper goods, pet gear, body goodies, housewares, and more.

In addition, the event has curated food trucks, DIY craft workshops, food artisans, live music and DJs. The weekly farmer’s market will also be taking place on the waterfront.

When: November 16, from 11-5
Where: Jack London Square, 55 Harrison Street, Oakland
Cost: Free

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coming Up: Willy Wonka performance

See the Pied Piper Players musical, based on the book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,” which features the songs from the classic family film “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.”

When: November 14–23 (various times/dates)
Where: Bayside Performing Arts Center, 2025 Kehoe Avenue, San Mateo
Tickets: Get them here. $18/adult; $13/senior or child (plus $1 ticketing fee).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets - Discounted Shows for the Holidays

If you're starting to look into holiday shows and holiday gifts, look at the offerings on Goldstar. You'll save 50% on most tickets. (I do get a small commission on bookings through here with my code, but I wouldn't offer them if they weren't a good deal).

Peter and the Starcatcher - in Palo Alto
Peter and the Starcatcher, the multiple Tony Award-winning show that The New York Times called "the most exhilarating storytelling on Broadway in decades," is the swashbuckling, madcap prequel to Peter Pan. Inventive stagecraft and an imaginative story combine to reveal the origins of "the boy who wouldn't grow up" in this madcap music-filled adventure. A hilarious romp through the Neverland you never knew, join in on an action-packed adventure that brings pirates, orphans and secret agents of the Queen together on the high seas. Based on the bestselling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and written by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), Peter and the Starcatcher boasts an all-star creative team and weaves an enchanting tale that appeals to both adults and kids.

This link will take you to all the Bay Area Nutcracker offerings.

The MeshugaNutcracker! in Campbell
This show (which I'm featuring later in the season) combines Tchaikovsky's score and Chanukah lore. It's good for the family. Their description:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Coming Up: Musical Journeys With Frank Levy: Around the World in 88 Keys

The Palo Alto JCC is presenting "Musical Journeys With Frank Levy: Around the World in 88 Keys." This musical voyage will take young listeners around the globe through poetic melodies, magically transfigured nursery rhymes and lullabies by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, and Glinka. Audiences will travel to Israel, Russia, China, Germany, England, France, Spain, Austria, and Poland through the universal language of music.

This program is the first of three Musical Journeys with Frank Lévy to be presented by the Oshman Family JCC; Lévy will return January 11 to present “Animals, Seasons and Other Musical Fantasies” and April 19 with “Children’s Corner and Some of Our Favorite Things.”

What: Musical Journeys With Frank Levy: Around the World in 88 Keys
When: Sunday, November 16 at 3
Where: Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto (Schultz Cultural Arts Hall), 3921 Fabian Way
Tickets:  Tickets are $20 each in advance ($25/door), or $50 for a series of three (other concerts are on January 11, 2015 and April 19, 2015)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Coming Up: James and the Giant Peach

The Bay Area Children's Theatre presents a new musical inspired by Roald Dahl's classic tale, James and the Giant Peach. The book is about the orphaned boy who escapes from his wicked aunts aboard an enormous enchanted peach inhabited by a bunch of large bugs. Music and lyrics for this show are by the Tony Award-nominated team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with the adaptation by playwright and educator Timothy Allen McDonald.

The show is recommended for ages 4 and up, and the show is 90 minutes long with an intermission.

Mill Valley - at the Marin Theatre Company - November 6 - 9
Berkeley - at the Freight and Salvage - November 16 - December 14
San Ramon - at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center - December 20 - 21
San Francisco - at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater - December 27 - January 4
Tickets: $22/adult, $18/child, $20/senior, $13/group price for 15 or more

More info: call (510) 296-4433, or visit 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coming Up: The Birth and Baby Fair

If you're expecting a baby or already have one, plan to attend the Birth and Baby Fair

The Birth and Baby Fair showcases local businesses and resources plus independent designers, to educate and expose new and expecting parents and young families to local pregnancy, birth, baby and parenting services like: doulas, midwives, massage therapists, fitness instructors, childbirth educators, lactation consultants and photographers.

They'll also have free workshops and demonstrations on baby baby sign language, vaccines, cloth diapering, ecofriendly options, baby wearing/slings, making your own baby food, pre and post natal yoga, and breastfeeding. You can register in advance for the workshops.

Enjoy some free pampering and rejuvenating treatments including massage, mocktails and beauty treatments. And bring the kids to the play area for fun and arts and crafts activities. They'll have a cafe and a nursing area, and photo booths for fun.

When: November 9, 2014 from 10-4
Where: Fort Mason, Herbst Pavilion
Tickets: find discount passes at the stores on this page (left side). Tickets are $10/online, $12/door. Kids 18 and under are free.