Chalk it Up is celebrating 25 years in Sacramento this weekend!

25 Year Mark Updated DateBy Heather Crivellone

The kids are back in school, and the weather is (slowly) starting to get cooler. With Labor Day weekend around the corner, we can start kissing summer goodbye and realize that it’s finally coming to an end. Although, you may have plans for grilling up some burgers with friends and family, but if you get the chance , take an opportunity to check out one of the coolest (in my opinion) annual festivals that takes place in Downtown Sacramento –  Chalk it Up!

Chalk it Up is an annual Art and Music festival that started in 1991 and has been held every Labor Day weekend at Sacramento’s Freemont Park.  It’s an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work and those who may be “aspiring” artists to grab some chalk and create a masterpiece along with others around the park. Chalk it Up helps to raise money to benefit the arts here in Sacramento, and many organizations will sponsor a “Square” to be seen and increase awareness of their organization.  Last year there was close to 35,000 people who came out to view the art, and if you are like me, it’s a great way to get your kids exposed to art and let them get messy by “chalking up” the ground. You can expect to see lots of beautiful work, plenty of arts and crafts booths, vendors, food, live music and entertainment.  This is an event that is always fun for everyone,
and this year, marks the 25th year the festival has been in Sacramento!

Chalk it Up comes to town this weekend, September 5-7 at Freemont Park 1515 Q Street in Downtown Sacramento. Parking can be tricky downtown, but one block from Chalk it UP there will be parking provided by Ace Parking at 1515 R Street (R Street between 15th and 16th streets).  A portion of all parking fees collected at this location during the festival is being donated back to Chalk it Up!

So grab some sidewalk chalk and head out to Freemont Park this weekend for some fun!


Win Tickets to The Greatest Show on Earth’s All-New Circus XTREME

Circus 3Everyone’s favorite circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, will soon be back at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena with an all-new show, Circus XTREME September 17-20, 2015. This year’s performances will be exploring a world of extreme beauty, flexibility, strength and dexterity, blending traditional circus favorites with extreme displays. Children of all ages can let their imagination go wild in an exhilarating adventure with extraordinary exotic animals and over 100 circus performers from 12 countries who redefine the word extreme in everything they do. Unique acts include:

Xtreme Sports display featuring BMX freestyle riders, energetic parkour performers, trampoline acrobats and slack line gymnastic tricks.

Caravan of Camels – the only act of its kind in the world featuring 6 twin-humped Bactrian camels.

Bungee Skydivers aerial acro-ballet.

World’s youngest human cannonball Gemma “The Jet” Kirby has been shot from the cannon nearly 500 times.

Mongolian Marvels strongmen create a human pyramid with a combined weight of over 880 pounds.

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Arrive early to experience the circus up close and personal. Included in your ticket price is access to the Animal Open House and All-Access Pre-Show where families can step onto the arena floor to meet the performers, learn circus skills, try on costumes, and more.

Also available is the option to upgrade your experience and go backstage with a VIP Behind The Scenes Tour of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for a fun, interactive experience.

What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Circus XTREME

When: September 17-20, 2015

Where: Sleep Train Arena

Tickets: Children ages 2-12 – tickets starting at $10; Adult tickets starting at $20

Would you like a chance at winning tickets to Circus XTREME? We’ve got a family 4-pack to give away to one lucky family. Answer the following trivia question correctly, and you’ll be entered into the giveaway. A winner will be randomly selected on Thursday, September 3, 2015. Here’s your question:

The circus hasn’t always performed at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena. Which iconic downtown venue hosted the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus for many years before the arena was built?

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Kids Eat Free in Sacramento

imagesoyjuw3z5By Heather Crivellone

School is back in session…and that means (for many families), homework, sports practice and events.  As our days get more hectic, we tend to find ways to make our lives a little easier.  Dinner sometimes get’s pushed off to last minute- and instead of spending a ton of money on fast food, why not check out some of our local restaurants that offer a “Kids Eat Free” day.

Every few months, we update our “Kids Eat Free” page… this page is always a work in progress so, if you happen to know of your favorite local eatery that holds a promotion, please let us know.
Currently I have compiled a list of some of our family favorites:

33rd Street Bistro
3301 Folsom Blvd. East Sacramento
(916) 455-2233
Great food for “date night” and even better when you don’t have to get a sitter!  Monday nights, kids eat FREE with paying adults!

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Locations throughout Sacramento, Dickey’s serves up some authentic BBQ… from Ribs, brisket, tri tip to chicken- there is something for every “meat lover” in your family!  And on Sunday- Kids eat free!!  And the best part…. every meal comes with a “make your own” soft serve ice cream cone!

Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant
6049 Madison Avenue Carmichael
(916) 344.3177
Authentic Mexican food at great prices!  And on Sundays, with the purchase of an adult meal, kids eat for only .99 cents!

Strings Italian Café
4848 Madison Avenue, Sacramento
(916) 348-1925
Who doesn’t love Italian??  And when it’s free… even better!   Kids eat free on Sunday and Monday evenings with a paying adult!

2316 Watt Avenue, Sacramento
 Great selections to choose from burgers, salads, pastas and more.  The kids can eat for free all day on Wednesdays (with an Adult entree purchased).  As a mom, I love that they have the option to substitute the fries for carrot and celery sticks.

This is just some of our family favorites that offer Free kids meals.  You can check out the entire list on our “Kids Eat Free” link.  As always, this is a work in progress as restaurants end or change their promotions.  Please feel free to let us know of any changes or additions

Weekend Family Fun: Toy Trains, Wacky Woodpeckers and Screen on the Green

Weekend Family Fun in Sacramento

Looking for something to do with the kids this last weekend of August? Check out the special toy train exhibit at the Railroad Museum, celebrate Leo’s birthday at the Sacramento Children’s Museum, or stop by the Effie Yeaw Nature Center to learn about pond animals. For more weekend happenings, check out the list below.

Leo’s Birthday Bash – The Sacramento Children’s Museum is celebrating its fourth birthday with a big party. Join the Museum for dance parties, painted faces, games, and prizes galore. 8/28, 4:00 – 8:00 pm

Family Bike Night at Safetyville USA – Grab the kids and the bikes and come on down to Safetyville for a fun and safe place to ride bikes tonight. Enjoy bike safety clinics and food for purchase. 8/28, 5:30 to 8:00 pm.

Those Wacky Woodpeckers – Woodpeckers are instantly recognizable by their unique behavior of pecking vertically on trees and poles, but how much do you really know about these outstanding birds? The Effie Yeaw Nature Center will teach you all you ever wanted to know. 8/29, 10:30 am

Annie Jr., The Musical –  the loveable story of little orphan Annie adopted by wealthy businessman Daddy Warbucks, returns to the stage, better than ever. The talented young performers of Musical Mayhem Productions (ages 5-12) bring the iconic characters to life. Annie Jr. is a pared-down children’s theater production for youngsters and features one of Broadway’s most memorable scores, including the song “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” and the ever-optimistic “Tomorrow.” 8/28 – 8/29

Screen on the Green: Big Hero 6 – Screen on the Green is a series of free movie screenings shown at various parks in Sacramento. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating and snacks. Free popcorn available. 8/28 – 8/29, 8:15 pm

Balloon Rocket Racing at the Discovery Museum – Space Quest! has been refreshed and new additions have been made. Visit the museum to enjoy the improved exhibit full of space, physics, and science. Children are invited to engineer a balloon rocket that can race against others. 8/29 – 8/30, 12:30 – 4:30 pm

Wet and Wild Pond Animals at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Splashing, skimming, swishing, and swimming; what are all those critters in the water? Meet and learn about aquatic critters found near ponds and rivers. 8/30, 1:30 pm

Science Sundays at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – Join Leo and his team at the SCH for some fun science activities and experiments throughout the afternoon. 8/30, 12:00 – 5:00

Toy Train Month at the Railroad Museum – Don’t miss the last weekend of the California State Railroad Museum’s special August display for Toy Train Month.  In recognition, an entirely new selection of Buddy “L” toys – never before displayed at the Museum — will be introduced as part of the Small Wonders exhibit. The special items added to the exhibit will include a Model T dump truck, fire truck, lumber truck, cement mixer, toy boat, toy airplane complete with its hangar, and a four-motor “air cruiser.” Thru 8/31


Funfinity: Where Kids Can Bounce And Be Kids

funfinity 1By Heather Crivellone

With these 100 degree days upon us, and the threat of El Nino winter in our future, many moms are wondering what to do with the kids. There are many indoor playgrounds around the area to help kids burn energy and have fun and the newest in town is Funfinity.

Funfinity is the newest indoor play area that has recently opened in the surrounding Sacramento area.  Located at 1195 Dry Creek Road in Auburn, this place has it all!  The indoor play area features slides, trampolines, climbing tunnels and all the fun things to climb through, over and around.  They also have a separate area for the toddlers to play in, so the big kids don’t run over them while rough-housing and playing.  Not only do they have the “play structure”, but they also have arcade games, pool, air-hockey, and bungee jumping!Funfinity 2

What I enjoyed the most about Funfinity, was that they sold food.  Not just snacks, but actual pizza and salads….they even sell beer for those moms and dads who decide to spend a few hours letting their kids play on a Friday night!  The ambience is completely kid friendly, all the way to the Disney channels and Nickelodeon shows playing on the TV’s surrounding the arcade.

We recently took our kids to Funfinity on a Friday after school – we purchased the Groupon to “check it out,” thinking we would be there for an hour tops…we ended up spending 4.5 hours there!  The kids gave it “2 thumbs up” and continue to ask to go back.  If you are in the area or looking for an indoor playground to take your kids, I recommend Funfinity.

Things to remember, you do need to wear socks in the play structure.  They sell some if you forget (we have a nice pair of Olaf socks now), they ask that you don’t bring in outside food as they do sell food there (good prices- $9 for an 8 slice cheese pizza), and come ready to burn energy!  My kids slept VERY good that night!

Admission in Funfinity is only $8.  Bungee Jumping is an additional $5, and they do also offer specials on their website. Check out their website for party packages and more information. So remember, whether we are in the midst of summer heat or winter rains, we can still have fun jumping, bouncing and soaring  through the fun at Funfinity!Funfinity 3

Weekend Family Fun: Family Bike Night, Campfires & Friction Fun

Sacramento Family ActivitiesWhat’s happening in Sacramento this weekend? Family Bike Night at Safetyville, open house at Fire Station #60, Shrek the Musical, and more! Check out our list below.

Family Bike Night at Safetyville USA – Family Bike Nights was designed to give families a safe place to ride their bikes together, learn basic bike safety rules, and get some exercise. Bring your bike and helmet because there is three and a half acres to ride on, a special area for new riders, bike safety clinics, and food available for purchase. 8/21, 5:30 to 8:00 pm.

Campfire at the Maidu Museum – Sit under the stars at this outdoor amphitheater to enjoy native stories around the campfire every 3rd Friday of the month. They will provide roasting sticks and marshmallows for a sweet program’s end to this fun family event. 8/21, 7:30 to 8:30 pm.

Fire Station Open House at Station 60 – Bring your families and come on out to your local fire station. Meet the firefighters and medics who protect your neighborhood; tour the station; pick up some safety brochures; and take an up-close look at the trucks, engines, ambulances, equipment, and gear that your first responders use every day. 8/22, 2 – 4:00pm.

Skye is the Limit at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Come to the Nature Center to meet resident red-shouldered hawk, Skye. Take a peek into the amazing world of birds of prey that live in and around the Nature Center. 8/22, 10:30 am.

Friction Fun at the Discovery Museum – Kids can have fun with friction by taking the museum’s “race cars” for a test drive down four different ramps made with different surfaces. Time your car for each heat and discover how different surfaces cause different speeds. Remember the fun by making your own scratch art racer to take home. 8/22 – 8/23, 12:30 to 4:30 pm.

Shrek the Musical – In a faraway kingdom, the green ogre Shrek finds his swamp invaded by banished fairytale misfits, runaways who’ve been cast off by Lord Farquaad, a tiny terror with big ambitions. When Shrek sets off with a wise-cracking donkey to confront Farquaad, he’s handed a task — if he rescues the feisty Princess Fiona from the dragon-guarded tower, his swamp will be returned to him. However, a fairy tale wouldn’t be complete without unexpected twists and turns along the way. 8/22 – 8/23, 1:00 pm.

Nature’s Gifts at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Spend a morning in the Maidu village crafting an abalone necklace inspired by nature’s beauty and Valley Nisenan Maidu traditions. 8/23, 1:30 pm.

Is a McDonald’s Happy Meal Really That Bad for your Kids?

McDonald's Field to Restaurant Tour 2015By Alyssa Green

Don’t tell any of my health-conscious mom peers, but my kids eat at McDonald’s once in a while. To be honest, they are actually pretty familiar with the McDonald’s drive-thru. And I’ve felt guilty about every single visit. Why? Because I’ve made some assumptions about McDonalds’ food and practices that quite frankly aren’t true. This is what I learned on a recent McDonald’s Field to Restaurant tour here in the Sacramento Valley.

On a recent warm, August Friday morning, I joined a bus full of professionals on a tour of three local farms and factories that supply food to McDonald’s. I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned – where they source their food from, their quality standards and their business practices.

The first stop on the tour was Primavera Marketing, Inc. and Primafrutta Packing Inc., a company that farms and packages cherries, apples and walnuts. If you live on the west coast, chances are Primavera’s Gala and Granny Smith apples will end up in your child’s McDonald’s Happy Meal. Primavera, owned and operated by Italian immigrant Alex Sambado and his two sons, is located in Lindon, Ca. approximately 50 miles from Sacramento. The orchards are gorgeous and the apples delicious (we got to taste them straight from the tree.) I was truly impressed with the down-to-earth, yet professional Sambado Family, the quality of the fruit produced and the cleanliness of the facilities. So impressed was I, that I will now be exclusively searching for their products in stores – and they shouldn’t be hard to find. Besides McDonald’s, their produce can also be found at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Safeway and other various area supermarkets.

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Our next stop wasn’t quite as pleasant as the apple orchards – but only because of the nature of the business. Kruger Foods supplies McDonald’s with much of the pickles and relish used in their meals. Located in Stockton, this family owned and operated company grows some of their produce on site, and sources 85 percent of the rest of the crops needed within 90 minutes of their plant.

Kruger Foods produces condiments such as pickles, pickle relish, peppers, mayonnaise and dressings – all of which taste great on a burger, but are quite potent to the senses when one is inside a large facility that produces these products in bulk. Just imagine the scene. Hundreds of thousands of pickles being sliced, diced and bottled with ingredients like onions and garlic. Just being inside the factory for a short time inspired me to want to stand up and applaud with great gusto, all who work there each day. Bless these hard workers for providing you and me with a bit of “oomph” on our cheeseburgers.

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The final stop of the day was to Aryzta Bakery, also located in Stockton. Have you ever wondered where McDonald’s gets their hamburger buns from? Where do they travel from? Are they the least bit fresh by the time they meet up with your burger patty? Well, I had these same questions and was delighted with the answers.

I learned that Aryzta is one of the largest bakery companies in the world, with 21 bakeries in North America alone. They make artisan breads, sweet baked goods, pizza, tarts and pies. The Stockton facility supplies hamburger buns and English muffins to 575 McDonald’s restaurants in Northern California and Western Nevada. I learned that the buns and muffins are carefully baked, cooled and packaged in a clean and well-run factory. While they are frozen, they aren’t in the freezer for very long. The average time between when the buns come out of the oven to when you are sinking your teeth into them is four to five days.

One surprising fact I learned about Aryzta is that the company is dedicated to minimizing its use of natural resources and impact on the environment. To date, ten of its factories, including the Stockton location, have achieved the goal of zero waste to our landfills.

After a full day of touring farms, fields, factories and plants, and speaking with representatives from each location as well as McDonald’s, I rightfully lost my sense of guilt over my kids eating at McDonald’s every now and then. The food is fresher and more nutritious than I imagined, McDonald’s standards and practices are more admirable than I dared hope, and the company itself has a greater positive economic impact on our community than I was aware of. So, go ahead. Buy your kid a Happy Meal once in a while. And lose the guilt.

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Did you know?

  • McDonald’s purchased $241,554,930.00 in food and supplies from California in 2014.
  • There are 31 independently owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants in Sacramento, generating $40 million in economic activity.
  • Sacramento franchises donate $50,000 a year to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarship program.

To learn more about where McDonald’s sources their food from, take a look at these blog posts:

Cookies & Clogs:

Mama Harris’ Kitchen:

Bay Area Mommy: