Event Round-Up: Aug. 18

Summer is winding down and the kids are headed back to school! But, that doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. Make sure you end your summer in the right fashion by taking advantage of some of these fun, cheap, and local events coming up in the next few weeks!

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1. Best in Show Sunset Screening (Duboce Park, 8/23 @ 6 pm)

Food trucks, BYO dog, movies at sunset, in San Francisco? Is this a dream? What a great way to finish out summer with the family before sending the kiddos back to school. Maybe you’ll even run into me and my Weim Bodie out there! More info here.

2. Candytopia Pop-Up (767 Market St., 9/6 – tickets needed)

The latest “selfie-friendly pop-up,” as it’s so perfectly described here, is Candytopia! It sold out shows in Southern California and will start making its NorCal debut in early September. Make sure you get tickets as soon as possible – I went to the last one (29 Rooms) and it was unforgettable!

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TripAdvisor.com

3. Family Art Day (Shadelands Art Center, 9/8 @ 10 am)

The Shadelands Art Center is hosting a 4-hour set of art-making, dancing, music, and more for FREE. It’s open to the public and they encourage entire families to come. The theme is “Art is Magic!” so you know it will be interesting. They will have drinks available for purchase on-site.

4. Off The Grid Twilight Campfire Party (Main Post Lawn, 9/20 @ 5 pm) 

Look, if you haven’t been to an Off The Grid event yet, you’re missing out. San Francisco is the King of Off the Grid get-together’s, and this one will be no different. Join masses of people, food trucks, drink vendors, and live music for a little campfire party in the Presidio at twilight!

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5. National Public Lands Day! (National Parks, 9/22)

Do you always want to go to the local National Parks, but don’t want to pay exorbitant entrance fees? Then Sept. 22nd is the day for you. Explore hikes, lakes, and more at any of the nearby National Parks for FREE! National Public Lands Day is one of the few days of the year in which it’s free to visit any of the parks. Here are the ones in California.

8 best food festivals in the Bay Area this summer

Is there anything better than a social gathering for the purpose of eating or drinking? A backyard barbecue with neighbors, a wine-tasting and walking event, food truck frenzies with friends…the list goes on, but the level of awesome remains the same.

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TimeOut.com has compiled a great list of eight unique Bay Area food festivals, and if you’re someone who enjoys these outings, you must give it a read. I’ve reformatted the list below. Let me know if you end up checking out any of these local foodie fests!

1. Lamb Jam (San Francisco)

Sip and snack on delish lamb-based dishes at this epic gastronomic event and competition that brings together 16 of SF’s most talented chefs to b-a-a-a-a-a-ttle for the title of Lamb Jam San Francisco Champion.

 July 22 3–6pm at Golden Gate Club; $56–$125

2. Garlic Festival (Gilroy)

Garlic lovers from around the world flock to this small town for food, drinks, crafts, live music and cooking competitions. Be sure to try the garlic ice cream (and don’t forget to bring your toothbrush).

July 27–29 10am–7pm at Christmas Hill Park; free–$20.

3. Zucchini Festival (Hayward)

At this healthy food party, discover the versatile uses of the hearty vegetable, from cakes and cookies to snacks and main dishes. Don’t miss the massive zucchinis competing in the growing contest!

Aug 18, 19 10am–8pm at Kennedy Park; $5–$10.

4. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival (San Francisco)

Ghirardelli pairs its world-famous cacao beans with wine, ice cream and tons of other tasty desserts at this sugary soiree. Indulge guilt-free, knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to local nonprofit Project Open Hand.

Sept 8, 9 noon–5pm at Ghirardelli Square; $26–$55.

5. Cheese Fest (San Francisco)

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead, Cypress Grove and other local makers will provide fromage nibbles at this dairy fest. Of course, cheese gets by with a little help from its friends wine and charcuterie, so expect vendors hawking those tasty delights, as well. Pop a Lactaid and get to work.

Sept 15 at Social Hall SF; $TBA.

6. Bloody Mary Festival (San Francisco)

SF’s most beloved brunch cocktail gets its own fest this season: Attendees will sample local bars’ tricked-out versions of the tomato-juice-and-vodka cocktail, then vote for the People’s Choice Award winner. Also, a panel of industry judges will pick its favorite version.

Sept 29 10:30am–6pm at SOMArts Cultural Center; $45–$55.

7. Eat Drink SF (San Francisco)

This four-day gourmet fest delights taste buds with bites from more than 30 Bay Area restaurants, plus cocktail classes, taco parties, and meet and greets with local celebrity chefs.

Aug 24 7:15–10pm; Aug 25 12:45–3:30pm, 7-:45–10:30pm; Aug 26 12:45–3:30pm at Fort Mason Center. $109–$229.

8. Eat Real Fest (Oakland)

Eat Real combines a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party to create a celebration of good food in Oakland. Celebrate ten years of local food vendors, food entrepreneurs, artisan products, and demonstrations from the Bay Area’s top chefs and culinary experts.

Sept 14 3–10pm, Sept 15 11am–10pm, Sept 16 11am–7pm at Jack London Square; free. 

Road Trips: Pt. Reyes & Hog Island

There are a lot of fun, interesting things to do in the Bay Area. That’s part of the allure of living here – visiting San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley never gets old, and you have art, music, culture, food, drink, and outdoor adventure literally surrounding you at all times. But, there are still hidden gems out there that stand above the rest in their uniqueness. Recently, I took a day trip to do one of those things!

If you’ve never been to Point Reyes, you’re missing out. This is an underrated activity in the Bay Area. I spent a day enjoying oysters and drinking beer at Hog Island Oyster Company with friends, then we visited Drake’s Beach via Pt. Reyes Station, and Cowgirl Creamery. The area itself is a bit of a drive up, we took the route via Skywalker Ranch/Nicasio – a stunningly beautiful, but winding way to go to do something fun and out of the ordinary.

We went to Hog Island first, where there is only outside picnic bench seating or standing room (on a wine barrel) if you don’t have reservations. It also happened to be one of the nicest and warmest days the coast had to offer, so it was packed. You have the option of having your oyster shucked and ordering off the menu, or booking the area with grills and bringing your own food after you buy the oysters from Hog Island.

It was a wonderful experience and the food was outstanding. I think the ambiance and friends made it taste even better. We also stopped at Drake’s Beach, which has a bluff protecting the beach from the ocean’s breeze, so we had a warm summer day on an empty beach (which I’m sure is different than a place like Stinson Beach!) From there, we visited Pt. Reyes Station, meandered around the town, and took a peek around Cowgirl Creamery, where we tried their cheese at lunch. Take a look at the photo slideshow below to get an idea of how much fun it was!

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Get your groove on this summer!

There’s nothing better than a summer night in the Bay Area. We’re spoiled with perfect weather here, and it means we can spend every evening outside, enjoying the twilight with drink in our hand and a happy hour entree on our plates. It also means it’s time for Summer Concert Series season!

You don’t have to stray too far from home to get to the closest concerts. There will be four free performances outside The Lesher Center, starting with a show this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. All shows go from 5:30-7 p.m. and will sell beer, wine and snacks:

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Courtesy: http://www.lesherartscenter.org/summer-sounds-2018.html
  • June 21: Mariachi Mestizo
  • June 28: The Sons of the Soul Revivers
  • July 12: Tumbledown House
  • July 26: The T Sisters (highly recommend this one – love their sound!)

If you like what you hear in July at The Lesher Center, carry on that momentum into August with Broadway Plaza’s Summer Concert Series. These will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Event Plaza, and they are also free to the public:

Courtesy: http://www.broadwayplaza.com/Events/Details/475005
  • Aug. 16: Kalimba (The Spirit of Earth, Wind & Fire)
  • Aug. 23: Caravanserai (The Santana Tribute)
  • Aug. 30: Bee Gee’s Gold (The Tribute)

Lastly, if you want to venture a bit outside of Walnut Creek, check out our neighbors’ Summer Concert Series in Pleasant Hill’s Plaza in front of Jack’s Restaurant & Bar. The shows take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and are, of course, free!

  • July 5: Fleetwood Mask
  • Aug. 2: Top Shelf Classics
  • Sept. 6: Illeagles

No matter which series you choose – or if you try out all three – you’re sure to have a good time jamming to some fun music! Let me know if you visit any of these shows, and how they are!

Road Trips: Capay Organic Farm

This is a repost from the previous week due to some technical difficulties with loading pictures into WordPress, just in case you missed it, I think it is worth a repost.

I subscribe to an organic vegetable and fruit home delivery from Capay Organic Farms. I can choose every week or every other week for a month. They have a standard selection of items, but I can delete items and add others. I can even choose from other vendors who have pesto, cheese or milk. Do you remember when the milkman delivered glass jars to your door?

It also comes with a sheet that has recipes and a note from Farmer Thaddeus. What makes Capay different is they also host a handful of events at their farm throughout the year. Capay Organic Farm in Capay, CA (just Northwest of Sacramento) is only an hour away and is a peaceful place to reconnect with nature, avoid crowds and have a relaxing day.

I recently took a day trip for their Capay Crush. Picnics were encouraged, but they had some food trucks and about five wineries doing tastings. We were also encouraged to pick tomatoes, take a tractor ride around the farm, and try various artisan products from pesto to olive oil. All the while, live music by three different bands were playing throughout the day!

The best band was saved for the last from 8-10 pm. Dirty Cello played, adults and kids danced and just celebrated an overall great day. If you wanted to, you could camp for $35 for the evening amongst the fig trees. I spoke with one guy who has been doing this for more than 15 years and talked fondly of seeing the bright, clear stars at night. Here are some additional pictures:

The last event of the year at Capay Organic Farm is its Pumpkin Palooza on Sat., Oct. 21st, from 11 am – 2 pm. You can buy tickets at the farm ($5 for adults, FREE for kids 12 and under!) if you want to go!

Check out some of the fun things they offer for Pumpkin Palooza:

  • Farm Talk with Farmer Thaddeus
  • Organic farmer’s market stand
  • Tractor rides
  • Face painting
  • Petting zoo
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Local olive oil tasting
  • Homemade pesto tasting
  • Authentic Mexican food from Tacos 911
  • Hand-baked goods from The Upper Crust
  • Artisan gelato
  • Cold brew and hot coffee

If you’re looking for a fun family road trip that is still a reasonable drive away and will make for a memorable Saturday, go take a look at Capay Organic’s Pumpkin Palooza in a couple weeks! Or one of their other events coming in 2018.

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Capay Organic Farm: box delivery, fun events…who knew??

I subscribe to an organic vegetable and fruit home delivery from Capay Organic Farms. I can choose every week or every other week for a month. They have a standard selection of items, but I can delete items and add others. I can even choose from other vendors who have pesto, cheese or milk. Do you remember when the milkman delivered glass jars to your door?

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It also comes with a sheet that has recipes and a note from Farmer Thaddeus. What makes Capay different is they also host a handful of events at their farm throughout the year. Capay Organic Farm in Capay, CA (just Northwest of Sacramento) is only an hour away and is a peaceful place to reconnect with nature, avoid crowds and have a relaxing day.

I recently took a day trip for their Capay Crush. Picnics were encouraged, but they had some food trucks and about five wineries doing tastings. We were also encouraged to pick tomatoes, take a tractor ride around the farm, and try various artisan products from pesto to olive oil. All the while, live music by three different bands were playing throughout the day!

The best band was saved for the last from 8-10 pm. Dirty Cello played, adults and kids danced and just celebrated an overall great day. If you wanted to, you could camp for $35 for the evening amongst the fig trees. I spoke with one guy who has been doing this for more than 15 years and talked fondly of seeing the bright, clear stars at night. Here are some additional pictures:

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No automatic alt text available.

Image may contain: outdoor

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Image may contain: outdoor

The last event of the year at Capay Organic Farm is its Pumpkin Palooza on Sat., Oct. 21st, from 11 am – 2 pm. You can buy tickets at the farm ($5 for adults, FREE for kids 12 and under!) if you want to go!

Check out some of the fun things they offer for Pumpkin Palooza:

  • Farm Talk with Farmer Thaddeus
  • Organic farmer’s market stand
  • Tractor rides
  • Face painting
  • Petting zoo
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Local olive oil tasting
  • Homemade pesto tasting
  • Authentic Mexican food from Tacos 911
  • Hand-baked goods from The Upper Crust
  • Artisan gelato
  • Cold brew and hot coffee

If you’re looking for a fun family road trip that is still a reasonable drive away and will make for a memorable Saturday, go take a look at Capay Organic’s Pumpkin Palooza in a couple weeks! Or one of their other events coming in 2018.

 

Enjoy some gorgeous hikes before summer ends!

With the warm summer weather starting to tail off a bit, all you hikers will want to get out there and hit these last few trails before the season changes completely. Here are four great hike ideas close to San Francisco, from Time Out San Francisco.

  1. Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve: a more remote, forested getaway in the Oakland hills with stunning views of the Bay in every direction!
  2. Angel Island: 360-degree views of the Bay Area from the highest point, and just a cool getaway for some nature and history.
  3. Alamere Falls: If you’re brave enough, you can sneak close to the edge of the 40-foot falls that drop into the ocean.
  4. Lands End: An oldie, but a goodie – you can’t beat this classic hike, which can take you through the Sutro Baths, along the coastline, and towards breathtaking Golden Gate views.

Obviously, there are plenty of local hikes in the East Bay to explore, too. Mt. Diablo and The Open Space are always fun, as are the views from the Berkeley Hills and Grizzly Peak. If you want something easy to take a stroller or a couple dogs on, try the Lafayette Reservoir!

We are very blessed to live in an area that has temperate weather even in the winter, but the beauty of the trails (and the lack of mud!) disappears as fall converges on the summer.

It’s supposed to stick in the low 90’s for the rest of this work week, and then start the decline into the 80’s and 70’s in the weeks to come. Take advantage now before you hole up next to the fireplace for the winter!

Tips for surviving the next drought

Last winter, the rains were plentiful. This spring and summer, the rivers have been gushing, lakes have been full and waterfalls have been crashing.

It’s a scene we haven’t had in the Bay Area in quite some time. But since the drought ended, all the regular water usage has returned – flushing normally, watering our gardens more than once a month, leaving the water going occasionally and not worrying about it…

That said, we’re still in California and we’re still in an accelerated state of global warming (according to most climatologists, anyway). So, there will be another drought. Here are some Bay Area-specific tips from the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) for surviving the next one:

Know your water provider’s Drought Program and its requirements

Every water provider should have a Drought Program. Contact them to make sure you know what their requirements are, ahead of the next drought. If you have CCWD, you can sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

Know how much water you are using

You can read your water meter to better understand how much water you’re using. However, that can be tricky. Here are some tips on CCWD’s website: www.ccwater.com.

Check for leaks

You can also utilize your meter to check for leaks. One of the most common leaks and wastes of water comes from the toilet. Check regularly!

Use efficient fixtures and appliances

You should always get EnergyStar appliances if possible, and you should have a toilet with 1.28gpf or less. Check if yours does at www.map-testing.com. Also, make sure your laundry loads are always full and don’t leave faucets running!

Convert lawns to gardens

Some water providers offer rebates for converting a lawn to a garden. For example, CCWD offers $1 per square foot of lawn converted ($1,000 maximum residential, $20,000 maximum Commercial/HOA). And California will give you a state rebate for front and back lawn conversions as well. Plus, it just looks prettier!

If you irrigate, do it efficiently

If you irrigate or have sprinklers, make sure the system is in good shape (no blocked or broken heads) so there’s no water waste. Try to water after the sun goes down or before it goes up to avoid evaporation. And turn the system off when rain is coming.

There are a million different simple ways to avoid water loss when the next drought occurs. Water is a still a precious commodity!

It’s not too late to jump on the Walnut Creek summer bike challenge!

Are you an avid biker? Is that your summertime physical activity of choice? Even if that’s not the case, you might want to give this cool bike challenge in Walnut Creek a try!

It’s a great way to force yourself outside to enjoy the beautiful Bay Area summer weather, get a little exercise, and be environmentally-friendly all at once. Basically, there is a Walnut Creek Summer Bike Challenge that asks you to download a challenge card and complete it before the summer is over.

Destinations include Cream in downtown Walnut Creek (what better motivation for going on a ride is there than having ice cream at the finish line?), Heather Farm and Civic Park.

If the exercise, enjoyment and gas savings aren’t enough incentive, there are also prizes! Some squares on the challenge card offer instant prizes or free stuff upon completion, and the program’s grand prize is an iPad.

Other Bay Area cities hosting a challenge like this are Brentwood, Martinez, Oakley and Pleasant Hill. Give it a shot and explore our wonderful little town in a whole new way. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a SoulCycle subscription!

Time for this summer to get in-tents!

Hah, get it? It’s officially summer in the Bay Area (if you couldn’t tell by the triple-digit heat…), which means it’s time for you to plan some fun camping trips!

Luckily, we live in one of the most serene, nature-filled parts of the country and dozens of great campgrounds are just a short drive away. That brings me to this list of local campgrounds provided by Placer Title Company.

Some you’ve probably heard of, some you haven’t, but either way you can’t beat the Northern California summer. Some of my favorite areas are Tahoe (of course) and the Redwoods.

On this list, I can’t recommend the Tahoe State Recreation Area, Big Basin or Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite, so get reservations like…yesterday!) enough. I’ve also found that Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe is an amazing, remote spot for hike-in camping.

If you have kids, Angel Island is a simple ferry ride (also fun for the kiddos!) and close enough to home that you can do an easy one-nighter. Obviously, if you want to be extremely close to home in the East Bay, hit up Mt. Diablo. They have pretty great campgrounds and almost every single one has a great view of the entire East Bay.

I love camping, whether it be in a car or a tent, in the warm NorCal summers. Check out that list, pack your car, and take a weekend off to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Our natural surroundings are some of the best parts about living in California, so take advantage of it soon!