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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: If/Then

SHN made an exciting announcement that the touring production of If/Then includes not only Idina Menzel, but original castmates Tony Award-winner LaChanze (The Color Purple, Once on This Island), Anthony Rapp (Rent, Six Degrees of Separation, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and James Snyder (Cry-Baby, Rock of Ages), the original Broadway stars of the show.

I reviewed the show for Jersey Kids with these castmates, and you can read the If/Then review here (and see whether it might be good for your kids, or better as a date night).

What: If/Then
When: November 10 – December 6
Where: SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco
Tickets: get them at the SHN website
Ages: recommended for 12+

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Coming Up: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Head to Golden Gate Park for a weekend of free concerts and the festival. You can see the complete lineup for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass here. As of this writing, the times/dates for each performer weren't yet available.

When: October 2-4
Where: Golden Gate Park, Hellman Hollow and Lindley Meadows

Friday, September 25, 2015

Amazon Prime Sale Today - $67 for One Year

If you've been on the fence about getting Amazon Prime, today is your day to buy. From 12 a.m. Eastern time until midnight Pacific time today (September 25), Amazon Prime is $67 (a $32 savings from its normal rate). They are offering it on sale as a way to celebrate Transparent winning an Emmy. If you're interested in in buying, use this link as it has the sale info mentioned on it. It's also an affiliate link, but that won't cost you anything extra. It's still $67 for one year (presumably the second year it goes back up to the regular price).

With Amazon Prime you'll get free two day shipping in addition to access to all their streaming movies and television shows (like Transparent!). There are other benefits as well, like access to 800,000 free ebooks via a lending library, and access to music and playlists.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coming Up: Glass Pumpkin Patches in the Bay Area

Glass pumpkin by Upupa4me/Flickr.
I already have a full patch of glass pumpkins in my house (plus a glass-blown apple) but I'm always tempted to add more. Here are several places to get some pumpkins that won't rot!

Palo Alto
What: Great Glass Pumpkin Patch
Where: Palo Alto Art Center (1313 Newell Road)
When: Exhibition: September 29-October 2 (10-7 or 10-5), Sales October 3-4 (10-5)
Details: After several days of previews, you can purchase pumpkins! This is the largest glass pumpkin patch in California, with more than 10,000 hand-blown pumpkins for sale by 29 artists.

San Jose
What: Glass Pumpkin Festival at Santana Row
Where: Santana Row Park, across from Left Bank Brasserie
When: Saturday and Sunday, October 10 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and October 11 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Details: Stroll through thousands of hand-blown glass pumpkins crafted by BAGI (Bay Area Glass Institute) artists and renowned glass artisans from around the country. The pumpkins will be available in an assortment of colors, sizes and a range of prices.

Half Moon Bay
What: Hand blown art glass pumpkin patch
Where: La Nebbia Winery, 12341 San Mateo Road on Highway 92
When: October 10-11 (10-5)
Details: Hundreds of hand blown pumpkins by artist Douglass C. Brown

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fun science projects to do at home with Project MC2

As a StreamTeam member, Netflix sent me a really fun package earlier this month, related to their original series Project MC2. If you're not familiar with the show, it's about four girls who team up as teenage spies, to become secret agents. The tag line is "smart is the new cool."

As part of the package, Netflix sent us some science experiments to do at home. Lucky us - school hadn't started yet, and my kids ripped into them. You may have some of the items needed in your home already, and here are the instruction sheets they gave us, which are pictured below.

We made a glitter tornado in a test tube, using water, glitter, dish soap and food coloring.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Coming Up: Superhero Training Academy

For your kids who aspire to be superheroes, there's the Superhero Training Academy this Saturday in Milpitas.

Event highlights include:
-Superhero Photo Meet and Greet
-Superhero Training Stations
-Arts and Crafts Stations
-Retailer Discounts
-Superhero Prize Pack Drawing

Where: Great Mall (entrance 2, 447 Great Mall Drive in Milpitas)
When: Saturday, September 19 at 1 p.m.
Fee: free with $5 Simon Kidgits Club membership (it lasts a year)
Sign up: at the Great Mall Guest Services desk

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Coming Up: Come out and Play Festival

We're at the tail end of the Come out and Play Festival in San Francisco. But that's okay, because Saturday is Family Day. It's sponsored by Poppy Cat, so the main audience is preschoolers. Poppy Cat is a TV show on Sprout and Netflix. There will be several family games to choose from!

When: Saturday, September 19 from 11-4
Where: Gray Area Art and Technology, San Francisco (2665 Mission Street)
Cost: free

Coming Up: California Coastal Clean-Up Day

This Saturday is California Coastal Clean-up Day, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Join with 67,000 other volunteers all over California to help clean up what might be almost 1.2 million pounds of trash and recylables. There are many participating sites, and you should contact the coordinator in advance. (I know, I didn't give you much warning). Find out more here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Shana Tova - Happy New Year!

I want to wish all my Jewish readers a shana tova, a happy new year. I'm about to start cooking for the holiday, but wanted to share a post from the past, with some links and explanations for the holiday!

If you're not Jewish, the holiday of Rosh Hashana may be something of a mystery. It's the Jewish new year! Instead of blowing party horns, we blow the shofar, a ram's horn, to wake us all up and make us look at our lives and how we are living them. It's a time for reflection and change - for the better.

Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, we're supposed to be introspective and figure out how we want to improve ourselves. We give more charity. We ask others for their forgiveness for anything we've done wrong in the past year. We start the year with a clean slate and part of that is making sure we've worked out any issues with other humans.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What to do in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend

A few fun activities for the upcoming weekend:

-For the football and Stanford fans out there, head to Stanford for Cardinal Kids Day at Stanford Football, a day of family fun on September 12. Enjoy interactive and educational activities, the chance to meet Stanford student-athletes, and then get ready for the Stanford Football home opener against Central Florida at 7:30 p.m. All kids 8th grade and under receive free admission with advance registration - use the promotional code CDM-STANFORD when getting tickets here. More info on Cardinal Kids Day at Stanford Football here.

-Combine a farmer's market with country dancing this Saturday, September 12 at Bay Street in the East Bay. Along with the farmer's market you can take free dance lessons, which they're calling the Country Dance Hoe Down. Professional Dance Instructor Tytus Bergtrom provides country dance lessons from 11-1, while the market goes from 10-2.The farmer's market offers produce, fish, baked goods, flowers, cheese, organics and oils. It's at Bay Street Emeryville, 5616 Bay Street.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Date Night: The Middleman Economy at Kepler's Books - and Giveaway

If you're looking for a night out with or without the partner, here's one to check out. Bay Area author Marina Krakovsky will talk about her new book "The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit." Given how the internet makes it much easier to do many purchases and deals directly, why go through a middleman, like a broker, agent or dealer? For the book, Krakovsky interviews people like:

-Drew Rosenhaus, apparently the most powerful agent in the NFL who gets better deals for clients but angers team owners.
-LaJuan Stoxstill-Diggs, an appliance flipper on Craigslist who makes money by buying used washers and dryers and selling them for profit, making happy both the people who want to get rid of their junk, and those looking to buy used.

The book and lecture might get you thinking about different ways to run your life, or your business. This talk is part of the Peninsula Arts & Letters series.

And you can possibly win a free copy at a Goodreads giveaway.

Where: Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Where: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: free, but get them here

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Coming Up: Kevin Henkes comes to Kepler's in Menlo Park

Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite children's authors. Our favorites of his include Lily's Purple Plastic Purse and  Julius: Baby of the World, but he's also written Chrysanthemum, Kittens Last Full Moon, The Little White Rabbit, Owen,, Good Day and Lily's Big Day. He's a Caldecott Medalist too (I love the illustrations). Well, he's coming to Kepler's Books on October 1 and you can see him - with or without your kiddos. Ha ha! He'll be talking about his new book Waiting. Read more about the book here.

When: Thursday, October 1 at 6 p.m.
Where: Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Road, Menlo Park
Tickets: tickets are free, but RSVP here. Maybe they'll close the event if it's full.

Go to the National Parks for Free with Every Kid in a Park Program

If you have a fourth grader, you're in luck. The National Park System is offering a new Every Kid in a Park pass this year.

The program, which started September 1 and goes through this school year, allows fourth grade students to obtain a special pass good for them and their families to visit any federally managed land/water site. This includes more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. For this program, the pass allows in the fourth grader and three adults, or a car full of people for drive-in parks. This all leads up to the National Park Service's 100th birthday in 2016.

Here's where to get the Every Kid in a Park pass and more information.

Friday, September 4, 2015

What to Labor Day weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you're like me, Labor Day weekend snuck up on you and you're trying to figure out what to do. Here are a few ideas!

-Bank of America's free Museums on Us program offers free museum entry per B of A (or Merrill Lynch) card on Saturday and/or Sunday. See a full list of participating Museums on Us sites here (you'll need to do a little clicking, since they don't have permalinks to regional museums).

-Chabot Space and Science Center is hosting a LEGO Laboratories event. This takes place every Sunday and has an engineering challenge focus. This quarter (through October) they're doing a space theme, a scale model of a Saturn V rocket. Challenges are based on age. The fee is $7/nonmember, $5/member plus admission.

-Go to the Cartoon Art Museum for their exhibit on Darth Vader and Friends.

-Check out the Begonia Festival in Capitola. There's a sand sculpture contest, you can help create a mural made entirely of begonias, watch a nautical parade featuring begonia covered floats, take a workshop to create wearable begonia creations, participate in a fishing derby, rowboat races, watch a film screening on the beach, do arts and crafts projects, eat, listen to music and more.

-Shakespeare in the Park is free on weekends through September 27. This year it's Romeo and Juliet.

-Outdoor movie night tonight at the Oakland Zoo at 6:30. The movie is Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Remember that BART service between San Francisco and the East Bay is halted this weekend (September 5-7) for track repairs.

Check out the calendar of events for families at

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Coming Up: Superhero Day at Santana Row

Santana Row is hosting a Mommy & Me and Daddies Too, event called “Superhero Day!” This kids’ club features free entertainment, interactive games, hands-on activities and educational activities designed for parents and their preschool aged children. Dress as your favorite superhero and meet other superheroes. They'll have live musical performances by Andy Z, Silicon Valley Ballet School and Action Day Primary Plus. Plus, arts and crafts, face painting, music, balloon art, story time and more. Meet at Park Valencia in front of Maggiano’s to pick up your activity sheet.

When: Tuesday, September 8, 10 a.m. to noon,
Other kids' club activities are held on the second Tuesday of every month, May-December
Where: Park Valencia at Santana Row, San Jose