5 Cute (and Easy) Halloween Crafts for Kids

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halloweencrafts

I found these absolutely darling, super cute Halloween crafts for kids on Pinterest, and had to share with you – what’s your favorite?  Here are my five top crafts I can’t wait to do with my kiddos this month…

5 Cute Halloween Crafts for Kids

 

The Paper Plate Pumpkin

Seriously so cute for littles to make – you can have them tear apart the orange construction paper (great for fine motor skill practice!) to create the “pumpkin” effect on the paper plate, and trace their little handprint for the “leaf” at the top.

Check out this blog for more details: http://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com

DIY Ghost Decoration

This is my type of easy craft.  White poster board (or card stock), a handful of cotton balls, and black felt or construction paper.  Boom.  Super cute, super simple.

Check out this blog for more details:  http://enjoyingtempe.com

Pumpkin Stamp Art

This craft is so fun…because it involves letting the kids make stamp art with paint.  And my kids LOVE paint.  Pretty simple instructions, including simple household items, like an empty to lit paper roll.  The stamping part is good for kids of all ages…but your bigger kids can actually help you make the stamp.

Check out this blog for more details: http://www.makeit-loveit.com

Paper Cup Spiders

Styrofoam cups, black and orange paint, multi-colored pipe cleaners, goggly eyes, paint sponges…and a lot of creativity!  My 1st grader can’t wait to try this one.

Check out this blog for more details:  http://www.dumpaday.com 

Easy Halloween Popsicle Stick Puppets

You can make just about any spooky shape, animal, or object with this craft.  Have you kiddos design what the want, decorate, cut it on. and glue it to a possible stick.  Easy peasey!

Check out this blog for more details:  http://www.craftymorning.com

Do you have any fun kid Halloween crafts to share?  If so, please comment below!

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Pancetta Herb Pork Loin Roast with Broccolini and Cheesy Polenta

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[Sponsored Post]

Porktober is still in full swing with pork specials running all month long at Costco, and in case you missed our first recipe post, please click here for Susanne’s delectable Garlic Maple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe.

I am still salivating over it and have to wonder how I got so lucky to have a business partner that also happens to have a culinary degree?!

Susanne was on fire again with this delicious pork loin roast recipe, which was so easy I think even I could attempt it on my own.  Here is her pork loin roast recipe (click here for downloadable copy) along with our (or rather, her) how to…

First stop was our local Costco to purchase our pork.

CostcoShopping

This recipe calls for a whole boneless pork loin roast, not to be confused with a pork tenderloin (which is a smaller, equally delicious cut of pork).

We picked up our 6 2/3 lb whole boneless pork loin roast at Costco for $20!  A great way to feed a large group beautifully on a budget!

In this case, we were feeding a smaller group so we cut the pork loin roast in half and froze the other piece for another night.  (To roast the entire thing, click here for the Pork Be Inspired guide for cook times.)

Pancetta Herb Pork Loin Roast with

Broccolini and Cheesy Polenta

Serves 6-8 people

Pork Loin Roast Recipe:

6 cloves large garlic cloves, minced

2 T fresh rosemary, minced

1 T fresh thyme, minced

2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 T whole grain mustard

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup dry white wine (I used an un-oaked Chardonnay)

6 oz thinly sliced pancetta

1 3.5-4lb boneless pork loin roast

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first 5 ingredients to make a paste, and rub all over the pork loin roast.

pork loin rub recipe 2. Next, with the pork loin roast fat side up, arrange the pancetta rounds overlapping each other on top of the herby mixture until you’ve covered the entire thing.

Place pork loin roast on a rack in a roasting pan and let sit at room temperature for about 30 mins to let the flavors marinate and to let the pork come to temperature to ensure even cooking.

3. Pour the cup of dry white wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

pancetta on pork roast

4. Roast the pork loin for about 1.25-1.5 hours or until center of the roast temps at 145 degrees in it’s center with an instant read thermometer followed by a 3 minute rest.

(Exact cooking time varies based upon your oven and exact size of your roast, click here to see guide for cooking times.)

pork loin cooking temperature

Cheesy Polenta

2 3/4 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 cup milk (whole is best)

2 cups water

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bay leaf

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 cups freshy grated fontina cheese

1. Butter a baking dish, liberally.  Bring to a boil the chicken broth, milk, water, garlic, and bay leaf.  Turn down heat to medium low and gradually whisk in cornmeal, stirring in one direction, reduce heat to low and cook until cornmeal softens and mixture thickens, about 10 mins.

2. Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper and cheeses (saving a little cheese for the top).  Pour into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the extra cheese on top.

3. Bake until polenta is heated through and golden brown, about 20-30 mins.

cheesy polenta

Roasted Broccolini 

3 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed

1/2 lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup chicken stock

1. About 15 minutes before your pork loin is finished cooking, toss the broccolini with the lemon juice, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and salt and pepper.

2. Quickly pull pork loin roast out of the oven, pour chicken stock on bottom of the pan and place the broccolini directly in the the pan drippings to roast as your pork loin is finishing up.  (The broccolini florets will soak up all of the delicious drippings and taste amazing!)

broccolini Using a good carving knife, carve your delicious pork loin roast into pieces and plate with spoonful (or two, or three…) of polenta and serving of broccolini.

This dish was AMAZING. The flavors of the garlic herb rub combined with the crispy pancetta made for mouth watering bites.

pork loin roast recipe

After dinner, I told Susanne, I feel like I eat a LOT of chicken, and it is so nice for a change to mix it up with a new and delicious protein option for dinner. The pork was so lean and delicious.

Next challenge: trying out this recipe on my own!

Have a great day everyone! Happy cooking!

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To Third.

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Henderson700

As I’ve just entered my 8th month of pregnancy, I guess it’s time to write my follow up post about how my husband and I decided to go for the third child.

Some of you might remember my first post on the subject, written years ago “To Third or Not To Third?“ where I layed out all of the reasons why we should and why we should not add another member to our family.

We talked about it and talked about it, and waited for the right time and talked about it some more and couldn’t come to a decision.

My husband was so sick of the topic.  

One night last Spring we were out on a date night (which included some tequila) and we decided to give ourselves a window.  A very short 3 week window, effective immediately and ending with a trip we had scheduled to Cabo for our friend’s 40th birthday celebration.

In this time frame we would not take precautions not to get pregnant.  (See what I did there with that double negative?)

Our thought process was, if we get pregnant in that time frame then it was meant to be, and if we didn’t we could feel good that we had left it up to Fate who had decided for us.

The next morning after that date night, when the tequila had worn off, we both woke up terrified and looked at each other (almost in a scene out of a movie) and said “yeah, that’s enough of that plan.”

We thought we had our answer.

Flash forward to the last night of our Cabo trip when we were having a SUPER fun time celebrating our friend’s birthday, and our friends who happened to be pregnant with their third started into a sales pitch about why we should have a third kiddo along with them.

Which got me thinking…something was a little late…

There will be a six year gap between our middle and our baby!  We will be going back to sleepless nights, and breastfeeding and bottles, and diapers and spit up, and strollers and carseat adaptors and high chairs and, and, and…

But after the initial freak out, the excitement set in:  we get to do this all over again!!

It will be the first time we are being surprised with the gender.  Our girls love to hug and kiss my pregnant belly, and get so excited to feel the baby kick and they love when s/he has the hiccups.  They are SO thrilled to have a little brother or sister. (Although Lyla swears she won’t change a poopy diaper.)

We can’t wait to meet this new member of our family who was SO meant to be.

Do you have a story to share on how you decided to go for the third? Share in the comments below! 

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 12.32.16 PM

(Photo Credit Top: Kristin Eldridge Photography)

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Thanksgiving Decor Ideas

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Thanksgiving Decor Ideas

Last year we had the opportunity to host Thanksgiving dinner at our home and the former wedding planner in me had just a tad bit of fun with the Thanksgiving decor – so I wanted to share some Thanksgiving decor ideas with you.

All the things I did were easy, and inexpensive, so if you are in the position to host Thanksgiving at your home this year, maybe some of these decor ideas might come in handy.

Free Printable Thanksgiving Banner 

If you search “Printable Thanksgiving Banner” on Pinterest, you will find a ton of cute ideas.  I found this free DIY printable Thanksgiving banner on Digimamas.com.

All you have to do is print the banner on white card stock, cut out the letters, and then I punched two holes in the top of each letter and strung them together with cooking twine.

My buffet in our dining room was a perfect place to hang.  On top of our buffet I used very cheap glass cylinders and alternated white pillar candles and stacked mini pumpkins.

Free Printable Thanksgiving Banner

Thanksgiving Tabletop Decor Ideas 

And then there comes the tabletop, which is my absolute favorite.  I opted not to use a tablecloth since my dining table is a very dark wood, and instead used a burlap runner I found at Michaels, along with fall-themed placemats I have had for a long time.

When cruising around Michaels, I got inspired when I saw these Wooden Plaques that looked like the real inside of a tree trunk! I am a fan of using multi-dimensional decor on tabletops, so I thought these would be the perfect way to add a bit of height and dimension.  In the store, there were a few different sizes, so I got a mix.

I also snatched up a pack of cute letter tiles that reminded me of Scrabble pieces to glue gun to the side of the wooden plaques with phrases like “Be Thankful” “Grateful” “Family”.

The rest of the Thanksgiving tabletop decor was a mix of gourds and mini pumpkins from our local grocery store, fall colored flowers and a collection of fall colored leaves my little ones helped me collect which I put in the bottom of the large votives.

I also picked up cheap mason jars from Michaels to use for vases because mason jars always remind me of fall.

tabletop

Gourd Succulents 

And thanks to my handy hubby who loves to grow succulents, he hollowed out a selection of gourds and then planted mini succulents in them to all to the Thanksgiving tabletop.  It was also a great conversation piece!

Gourd Succulents

Pinecone Thanksgiving Place Cards 

And last but not least were the place cards.  When creating a tabletop design, I think it is really a thoughtful idea to make each person at the table feel special.  Each year I try to think of new ideas for Thanksgiving place cards and last year I decided to go with pinecones, because again, I was in love with the natural fall tabletop theme!

Have you heard of free photo editing site PicMonkey? [Affiliate links]

Well I am in LOVE and use it for most all of my graphics now. I use it all the time, so I have the Royale Membership, which is only $33 for the year, and gives you access to a ton of cool fonts, graphics and is ad-free.

But the main interface is FREE for anyone to use.

You can use it to edit photos or to create fun place cards like these for Thanksgiving….

pinecone place card Basically all you do is select “Create” and then 8 x 10, and it will give you a blank 8 x 10 canvas to work with.

The “T” to the left is for text -and you can chose from fun fonts.

I think it is cute to put “We are Thankful for…guest’s name” for the place card.

Then click on the Butterfly icon on the left, and scroll down to Nature to see all the fun graphics you can insert like leaves, twigs, trees, etc.

PicMonkey is really user friendly. I absolutely love it! And if you are a graphics lover or love playing around with photo editing, the Royale Membership is completely, totally worth every penny.

I printed my pinecone place cards out on card stock, cut out, and then glued to a natural color gift tag from Michaels, that I then tied to the pinecone with raffia ribbon.

I hope you found some fun Thanksgiving Decor Ideas here! Do you have any ideas to share? Please comment below!

 

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Meet Our Team

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The past several months I have seen a huge jump in traffic to our site (and if you are reading this now, I have YOU to thank for that!) so I thought it was a good time to make some introductions for any new readers of the women behind Tiny Oranges in an “Meet Our Team” post!

jen That’s me, Jennifer Scheumann, and I founded Tiny Oranges in the summer of 2008.

At the time, I was a new mom to a two-year-old daughter, contemplating going for another baby at the time and I was looking for a way to share ideas with other moms.

For the first three years I ran the blog myself, barely, especially with a 3-year-old and colicky infant with reflux. Sometimes I look back and wonder how the heck I did it.

My blog was also a business and I was doing all the writing along with all the sales. It had grown to a point where I really needed a sales person to take care of that part of the business so I could focus on blogging, which was and is my passion.

I knew I wanted it to be someone who already read (and hopefully liked) my blog, so I did a help wanted post looking for a sales person back in 2011.

Going in I had decided I didn’t want to hire someone I knew, because God forbid, it didn’t work out. I didn’t want to have to run into that person around town and have it be…awkward.

SUSANNE Susanne, a mom I knew (and really liked) from a former Mommy & Me class we took together, emailed me to “apply” and I wrote back and politely explained how I wanted to hire someone I didn’t know and the reason why.

But Susanne didn’t take “no” for an answer, so she politely wrote back to tell me she really thought she would be a great fit. She told me she was a “no drama mama” and would love the chance to meet and at least talk about it and if it didn’t work out,  no big deal.

I went on a run that morning, and out of all the emails I had received, I just had a gut feeling Susanne was the One. We met that week and my instinct was confirmed, she seemed like the perfect fit.

She was and has been for over three years now.

Susanne is Tiny Oranges’ Sales Director and works with all of our sponsors to put together marketing proposals, contracts and manages our ads. I can’t imagine doing Tiny Oranges without her.

Susanne also happens to have a culinary degree, so I often rope her into sharing her talent with easy recipes from time to time. I joke and call her SUS Chef! This recent garlic maple pork roast recipe was to-die-for and her “How to Properly Cut an Onion” video was also one of our most popular posts.

Friends of mine, even to this day talk about how she was the one who actually taught them the correct way (including me!) to cut an onion!

Susanne’s a mama of two girls, ages almost 8 and 5, and a third on the way (gender will be a surprise) in December. For those of you who read her “To Third or Not to Third?” post awhile back, well, there’s the answer. For the record, I have a gut feeling it’s girl #3, and their house will be full of little women. Can’t wait to find out!!!

You can read more about Susanne here.

christy It was always my goal to keep our site full of fresh content so I have consistently blogged five days a week since the beginning.

But that’s a LOT of blogging, and once again, as work got busier I realized I needed someone to come on as a contributing writer.

About a year and a half ago, I did another help wanted post and received a great response with many talented moms wrote in with a sample writing piece.

I met Christy when she submitted this post entitled “Babies, Crosses and Sprinklers” and I fell in love.

Christy has been writing for Tiny Oranges since that time and is the mastermind behind some of our most popular posts including Top Ten Trips for Visiting Disneyland with Toddlers, Disney California Adventure Tips for Little Ones, An Easy Way to Teach Your Kids Their Phone Number and Reward Charts for Kids.

Christy’s a mama of a girl and boy, ages 4 and almost 7 and a passionate advocate for The Moms in Training Program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In fact, just this past weekend she ran a half marathon in San Francisco to raise money for the organization.

She is a huge inspiration to me, and just about the most energetic, on-the-ball person you will ever meet!  She often has things to me before I even realize I needed them.

You can read more about Christy here.

suzanne When I first started Tiny Oranges, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter did not exist or, if they did, were not mainstream.

In fact, the way I first spread the word to start my blog was to send a mass email to my contacts along with a POSTCARD in the mail to everyone I could think of.

Yes, my social marketing in 2008 included snail mail.

No one could have fathomed what would happen in the realm of social media at that time.

But in recent years, with the demands of so many emerging social media platforms, I found that trying to keep up with updating our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google + accounts was a job in itself.

Suzanne (yes, I work with TWO – one with an S and one with a Z!) is my younger sister who happened to leave her full time job to stay home with her kids a couple years ago.

When her youngest was out of the baby phase, one day she asked me if I needed any help and the answer was a resounding YES! I desperately needed someone to help with my social media accounts and she was the perfect person to do so.  It was once again, a match made in heaven.

Suzanne does our regular updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and is responsible for many of the amazing Facebook shares the last 6 months along with growing our following with her amazing social media content.

Recently she has also started pinning for me as well, which is fab for me, because she also has impeccable taste.

Suzanne is a mama to two boys, ages 2 and 5, and I am very lucky to have a sister that I absolutely love and also love to work with.  She has also contributed content as well including 5 Must Have Baby Items for a Second Time Mom and LEGO Organization Tips which were both extremely popular.

Being a major foodie, she recently wrote this Tamarind of London Review, which is hopefully the first of many OC restaurant reviews to come.

You can read more about Suzanne here.

So, those are the talented women that make up our team and make it happen here at Tiny Oranges. To say I am lucky is an understatement.  Running a blog is a ton of work. A ton. To have such a support system of women to help me has made all the difference. Blogging has always been fun, but they make it extra fun. I am one lucky mama in more ways than one!

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