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Monday, September 30, 2013

Coming Up: Lawrence Hall of Science Educator Night - Free

Are you a science teacher, or would you like your kids' science teacher to get in on a great (and free) educational experience? The Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley has a free educator night this Thursday (October 3, from 5:30-8). The educators get the run of the hands-on science museum after-hours, can network with colleagues and with programs like FOSS, Afterschool KidzScience, MARE and Seeds of Science/Roots of Learning. And there's wine and beer too.

Interested in more information or RSVPing? Here's the link.

Coming Up: Lawn Bowling Open House and Lessons - Free

Have you ever seen the lawn bowlers in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and wondered what it was all about? Well you can find out for free. Wear flat soled shoes and come out for the free open house on October 5.

It's not a kid-oriented event (though there's no age requirements).

When: Saturday, October 5 from 10-4
Where: Bowling Green Drive near Sharon Meadow
Cost: Free
RSVP: no - just show up
More info: here

Monday, September 23, 2013

Coming Up: Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day - Free

Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day makes it possible to visit some great museums - for free! They do this annually, and this year's is on Saturday, September 28th. Download an admission card here, and get into museums like Bay Area Discovery Museum, Hiller Aviation Museum, CuriOdyssey, Cartoon Art Museum, Bedford Gallery,  Legion of Honor, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, the Lace Museum, California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento), San Jose Museum of Art, and others.

The card is good for you and one guest - one card per household. Participating Bay Area museums are listed here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Coming Up: SF Public Library Giant Book Sale

If you're a book lover (I can't imagine anyone who isn't), the 49th annual huge book sale coming up to benefit the San Francisco Public Library. All children's books are $1 or less. Adult hardcovers start at $3, and paperbacks start at $2. Sunday, the books are all $1. They expect a crowd of 15,000, and they expect to raise about $250,000.

Plus, hidden in the stacks, are gift certificates to Delfina and Bi-Rite, plus San Francisco Ballet tickets, among others. Every sale day, you can get clues via Twitter and Facebook, with hints as to the location of the prizes.

On stock: more than 500,000 books, DVDs, CDs etc. All proceeds benefit the library's literacy programs.

Where: Fort Mason Festival Pavilion
When:  September 25-29 from 10-6. Members preview is September 24.
Hours: 10-6 for public days

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Coming Up: Tech-Savvy Scavenger Hunt

This looks like a fun activity that also raises money for SF public schools. edMatch is hosting this 2nd annual city-wide Tech-Savvy Scavenger Hunt, with teams of 4-6 people. You'll get your zone assignment at the start. The team completing the most missions, racking up the most points, wins. You can also win with best costumes, best school spirit and other prizes. 

Food will available from Off the Grid food trucks, with live music from District 8.

Teachers can register for free (to do so, contact Ellen Schatz-Kriney at

When: Sunday, September 29 from noon to 6
Where: starts/ends at City Hall at Civic Center Plaza
Cost: $50 for a team of four, $75 for a team of six
Who: open to all

Coming Up: Free Shakespeare in the Park

Pre-kids this was one of my favorite things to do. Now that my kids are old enough, I think they could come too! Come see Macbeth in McLaren Park in San Francisco. Bring a picnic and get there early enough to snag a good spot.

When: September 21 & 22 at 2 p.m.
Where: McLaren Park's Jerry Garcia Amphitheater (Mansell St & John F. Shelley Drive, SF)
Cost: Free! (though they pass the bucket, so bring some cash for donations if you're so moved)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Coming Up: Charity and the JAMBand concert - free

This Saturday, check out the free concert by Charity and the JAMband at McLaren Park in San Francisco. It's free and it's this Saturday at 2 p.m. Here's a map of the park (40 John F. Shelley Drive) - the concert is at the Jerry Garcia amphitheater.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Coming Up: Eat Real Festival - Oakland

If you like food, you'll want to go to the 5th annual Eat Real Fest in Oakland. This food festival will attract upwards of 150,000 at Jack London Square. They call is a combination of street festival, block party and state fair - all celebrating good food. They'll have demonstrations, DIY areas, markets, food trucks, tastings, drinks, contests and more.

It's family-friendly and has a Kid Zone, with activities, demos and fun educational guides on how to eat well. they'll have juice and nutritious snacks for the kids.  

What to expect

Kids' Kitchen: They'll have a Kids' Zone, but are featuring a Kids' Kitchen this year as well, with cooking classes for kids, taught by kids. There will be recipe contests, blindfolded "name the ingredient" tastings, and other kitchen games.

Flying Knives Steer Butchery Contest: for those who like meat, butchers will cut, cure and create - with offal being highlighted. This includes the Whole Hog Butchery Competition. Chefs will be required to use off-cuts and feature as much of the animal as possible. 

Coffee Pavilion: taste and learn about coffee through coffee cuppings and roasting demonstrations. 

Jam Bar: Learn the art of mixology while sipping masterful cocktail creations. Probably need a babysitter for this one, though.

WhenSeptember 27-30
Where: Oakland, Jack London Square
Cost: Free (though you'll pay to eat); some events require tickets

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 - remembering


Photo courtesy of KConnors

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Link Love: What I'm Reading

Ready to go apple picking? Red Tricycle has a list of six places to go.

Mark di Suervo isn't a household name, but his sculptures are well known in the art world. SFMOMA (which closed for a long renovation this summer) has an outdoor exhibit of his work in Crissy Field. Check it out next time you're there. has a great deal right now - $4 for $25 restaurant certificates - through today. Use code SAVE at checkout.

Get tickets to Shrek the Musical in Walnut Creek - half off at Goldstar. I saw this show on Broadway with the family and LOVED it. Go see it!

Friday, September 6, 2013

UV Eye Tips for Travelers

As a pale gal who grew up in Arizona, I'm well aware of the sun's ability to inflict damage on skin. I'm waiting for my first skin cancer to pop up (and go yearly to the doctor to look for it). But it never occurred to me that UV rays could damage the eyes. Sure, I wear sunglasses when I'm out, but that's for comfort and to prevent myself from squinting (don't want those wrinkles). My kids don't have sunglasses.

I'm rethinking all that now after getting contacted by the Vision Council, a trade organization that represents manufacturers and suppliers in the optical industry. They sponsored a webinar to learn more about the effects of UV rays.

It turns out UV can damage the eyes in the form of long-term age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and cancer of the eye and surrounding skin. In the short term, problems can include photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye), swollen/blood-shot eyes, and hypersensitivity to light. You can learn more here from this Vision Council report.

Interestingly, kids are more prone to UV eye damage because their lenses are still developing.

Coming Up: Museums on Us - free

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, giving B of A cardholders and Merrill Lynch card holders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it! It's this weekend, September 7-8 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so just check the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu. 

Participating museums in San Francisco and San Jose area:
·         The Tech Museum of Innovation
           The San Jose Museum of Art
·         Chabot Space & Science Center
·         Contemporary Jewish Museum
·         de Young Museum
·         Legion of Honor

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Coming Up: Two family SCRAP workshop - make Stuffy or Halloween costume

The Stuffy Workshop is with Lauren Hartmen, and you'll make

SCRAP is a great place with donated materials that find a home with you and other crafters and teachers, instead of ending up at the dump. You'll have choices of fabric, buttons and lots of trims to make it your own.

When: Saturday, September 14 from 2-5
Where: SCRAP - 801 Toland Street, SF
Cost: $40
Ages: all ages - kids must be accompanied by adult
Registration: here

The same instructor leads a Make Your Own Halloween Costume workshop. Using the SCRAP materials, you'll paint, glue, sew and create your own custom costume and build 3-D construction skills for future disguises.
WhenSaturday, October 19 from 2-5
Where: SCRAP - 801 Toland Street, SF
Cost: $40
Ages: all ages - kids must be accompanied by adult
Registration: here

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Link Love: Free Kindle books, Watermelon Carvings and Food Allergy Documentary

Want some free Kindle books? Through Saturday, you can get Annie Fox's Teaching Kids to be Good People and Are We Lost? (a kids' book).

Interested in learning more about food allergies? No doubt you've experienced kids with them at school or through friends, or perhaps you have them in your own family. The Discovery Channel is running an hour-long documentary narrated by Steve Carell, featuring individuals and families from across the country who are managing life-threatening food allergies, along with interviews of leading allergists and physicians. It airs on Saturday, September 7 at 8 a.m. ET/PT and again on September 21 at the same time.

Need  recycle that unneeded crib? Especially if it's no longer safe to pass down? Apartment Therapy has five great uses for that crib. My favorite is the gift wrapping area.
Check out these awesome watermelon carvings from Red Tricycle. They would be the hit of any party!

Happy New Year to my Jewish Readers - Rosh Hashana activities and crafts

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.

Rosh Hashana is a joyous holiday, known for apples and honey. We dip apples - a fall fruit - in honey, symbolizing the sweetness. Challah, the tranditional egg braid, is not served in a braided twist, but rather in a circle - symbolizing the circle of life. It often has raisins baked into it - for sweetness.

We spend the holiday in services and eating festive meals. Kids don't go to school and adults don't work on the holiday. Rosh Hashana begins Wednesday at sundown, and goes through Friday night (though many Jews just celebrate through Thursday night).

I want to wish my Jewish readers a Shana Tova - a happy new year. May you be inscribed for a blessing in the book of life.

If you want to do some simple Rosh Hashana crafts or activities, here are some links:

Make a delicious apple cake (it's on my menu)

Go apple picking

It's traditional to eat apples and honey, but making caramel apples is good too.

Rosh Hashana coloring pages and apple print cards (it's traditional to send new year's greetings)

"Ecocrafts" like a paper shofar, napkin ring and foam apple core (not sure how a foam apple is an eco thing, but...)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: Drazil Kids Tea Adventure

My kids drink mostly water. They were never big juice drinkers, which is good because I would have limited the amount they drink. Unfortunately they're not big milk drinkers either (though I'm pushing my daughter to drink more so she can stock up on calcium in her bones before the rate starts declining).

But I digress, Drazil Kids Tea contacted me to do a paid review of their kids tea/juice combination, and I agreed, because I thought it sounded like a product that my kids would like. And it's something different and more healthy to drink.

Drazil is a tea/juice combination, containing 45% juice (and 100% Vitamin C for the day), it's (almost) organic and 50 calories a serving. Instead of water as the other half, it contains caffeine free herbal tea. It comes in a single serving juice box. It's pasteurized, has tons of antioxidants, blah blah blah.

And in case you're wondering, Drazil is "lizard" spelled backward,

Coming Up: Jack's Night Market - Oakland - free

The last summer Jack's Night Market is coming up. You can look forward to entertainment like a fortune teller, outer-body virtual experiences, a free-walking beast (???), pinball machines, stilt walkers, hula hoopers, hip hop dancers and DJ music. Plus crafts, art, food and drinks.

When: Friday, September 6 from 6-10 p.m.
Where: Jack London Square - Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakland
Cost: free

Monday, September 2, 2013

Coming Up: Yerba Buena Family Day - free

Put Yerba Buena Family Day on the calendar! This 6th annual event, on September 15th this year, has free admission to participating museums, hands-on art making for kids and families and free family-friendly performances. Free museum entry includes: the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), and the Children’s Creativity Museum. Each venue offers a huge array of free opportunities to see and make art. 

Though SFMOMA is closed for updating, they'll have an On the Go pop-up in the neighborhood to let do creative construction activities. And the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival offers free performances by 2013 Grammy winner Lila Downs, plus other family-friendly performers throughout the Gardens. Here's what to expect:

San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtGo construction crazy in Jessie Square with SFMOMA Families on the Go. Be inspired under the big top to engineer a constructed creature of your own design, and don’t miss a special living sculpture that changes right before your eyes.

Contemporary Jewish MuseumCelebrate the abstract wonders in the exhibition Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art by creating your own see-through art box using colorful transparent shapes. Add your own twisting and turning lines to a giant Wikki Stix art installation, and groove to live performances by Alison Faith Levy’s Big Time Tot Rock.

Museum of the African DiasporaCreate sidewalk art in front of MoAD and make a collage with textiles and photographs. View Gordon Parks' film The Learning Tree and the inspirational documentary Brooklyn Castle about a junior high chess team. Move to the Afro-Latino rhythms of the award-winning John Santos Sextet.

Children’s Creativity MuseumLearn the basics of clay animation and movie making in the Animation Studio. Direct and star in your own music video, then experience the new multi-sensory, interactive LED light exhibit in Sense It. Stop by early to receive your special one-hour timed admissions sticker and return for your hour of creativity (first-come, first-served basis).

Yerba Buena Gardens FestivalEnjoy an outdoor concert on the Esplanade Stage from 1-2:30 p.m. by 2013 Grammy winner Lila Downs and her band who have reinvented traditional Mexican music with original compositions fused with blues, jazz, soul, and more. Then delight in music, clowning, and kid-friendly activities in the Yerba Buena Children’s Garden and in Jessie Square from 12-3:30 p.m.

When: September 15 from 11-4
Where: Yerba Buena area, SF
Cost: Free (thank you Target!)
Info: here