Halloween in OC Compliments of Popsicle Blog

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Halloween Events in OC 2014

Our friends over at have put together a list of 60 Halloween Events in OC 2014 for families which is so spooktacular I had to share.

Putting together a list like that for local Orange County parents is not easy. I know firsthand just how long it must have taken her to put together that list. We are talking HOURS and HOURS.

So, for that, we all say THANK YOU Jill!

Click here to visit Sandy Toes & Popsicles 60 Orange County Halloween Events for Kids and Families.

And Happy October everyone!

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Just Pin It Baby!

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I am a Pinterest fan, big time.  I love all the great ideas, and love how with one pin, I can easily find it later.  If you love Pinterest like me, please come over and follow Tiny Oranges’ Pinterest Boards.

Now pinning ideas you find on Tiny Oranges just got easier with our new juicy orange “Pin It” feature.

Simply scroll over any image on our site, and when you see the orange, click to pin!

Try it now! Scroll over any image in a post and you should see the Orange in the graphic above pop up in the top right corner.

When you pin anything on my site, it helps me more than you know.

So anytime you might see something pinnable, something you want to reference later, or share with friends, please just pin it baby!


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Why I Love My Husband

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[Photo credit: Kristin Eldridge]

I met Fawn, creator of the Happy Wives Club, last fall at Bloggy Boot Camp and was immediately fascinated by the empire she has created celebrating happy marriages.

Her goal is to find at least 1 million happy wives from all over the world who enjoy being a wife, adore their husband and are still head-over-heels in love.

I am member of the Happy Wives Club, because I genuinely AM a happy wife, so when Fawn emailed me this week telling me she is doing a link-up with bloggers who want to share the reasons they love their husbands, I jumped on board. Here are some of the gazillion reasons why…

1. He puts our family first.

2. He is the most selfless person I have ever met (see # 1).

3. He is the best dad. Ever.

4. He is really handy and can fix just about anything.

5. He is my biggest fan.

6. He is really easy to be around; I love being in his presence.

7. He’s the first person I want to call when something funny happens.

8. He’s the first person I want to call when something not-so-funny happens.

9. He makes me laugh.

10. He is fiercely loyal.

11. He is a no frills, salt-of-the-earth, type of guy. What you see is what you get.

12. He is more handsome today than the day I met him. Which is saying a lot because I thought he was the cutest guy I had ever laid eyes on when I saw him standing in front of the jukebox at Malarky’s on February 20th, 1998, the night we first met. It really was love at first sight.

13. He does the grocery shopping every weekend.

14. He’s quietly confident and secure in who he is.

15. He thinks I’m funny.

16. He embraces my quirks and loves me anyway.

17. He vacuums. And cleans the kitchen. And does his own laundry by choice. Sometimes I think I won the husband lottery in the “help around the house” department.

18. He has a lot of integrity.

19. He knows how to play cribbage.

20. He is my soul mate; the perfect person for me

Are you a member of the Happy Wives Club? Take a few minutes to write your husband a letter or email today on the reasons why ~ it will make you smile.

Sometimes it is really easy to get caught up on the negative things in relationships and the things that drive us crazy or bug us. But when you sit down and think of all the reasons WHY you LOVE your husband, the negative things seem to fade.

You can follow the Happy Wives Club on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for all sorts of positive inspiration on celebrating happy marriages.

Why do you love your husbands? Please comment and share!

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5 Blogging Rules Thou Shalt Not Break

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This expert advice post on 5 Blogging Rules Thou Shalt Not Break is written by Brad McMillen of Shoreline Interactive in Irvine, a company specializing in search-engine optimization and ranking. I have been working with the awesome guys at Shoreline for a few weeks now, trying to up my blog game. I hope my fellow bloggers will find this helpful, I sure did! By the way, I am SO busted on the last point on #4 below. Here is what he writes…

You’ve probably heard the phrase “serving two masters” and how it’s impossible to do. In most cases it’s true that you’re better off to not even try.

When it comes to blogging, however, you do have two masters—your readers and the search engines—and you have to please them both.

Your words must resonate with your readers and have them coming back for more. Your posts must be optimized so search engines know what you’re writing about so you can get more traffic. Neglecting one master or the other means your blog is underperforming.

So how do you simultaneously serve your readers and the search engines without losing your mind?

A few simple blogging rules are all you need to make your posts shine for readers and search engines. You, as the writer, have more power than you know.

Keep these five blogging rules in mind for your posts:

Rule Number 1: Write for your readers

With the SEO gremlin in your ear, it’s possible to get distracted from your real purpose: to write something of value for your readers.

It won’t matter if you get search-engine ranking or have a flawlessly optimized post if the content is boring.

Give your readers something they can use, and they’ll keep coming back.

Rule Number 2: Make your content easy to read

I’m sorry to break this to you, but a lot of your readers scan your posts. Time is short and they rarely read your entire post word for juicy word.

Make your content scannable by using short sentences, short paragraphs, basic words (show off your mad vocabulary another time), and use lists or bullet points whenever possible.

Subheads are an excellent way to make your content scannable: A reader should be able to know what your post is about by reading the subheads only.

Bonus: Search engines dig subheads too.

Rule Number 3: Use one keyword per post

Keyword research is important because it tells you what people are searching for online. When you use those keywords in your posts, you improve your chances of showing up on page one of the search engines. You should be thinking about keywords before you write your post.

As tempting as it is to try to cram all of your keywords into one post (maybe so you don’t have to sit down and write another post anytime soon?), don’t do it: You’ll end up all over the place with a clunky piece of content and will get limited attention from search engines.

Follow these guidelines if you want to impress the search engines:

Use your keyword in your title—preferably toward the beginning—but only if it makes sense. Don’t force it in and have an awkward title.

Put your keyword in the first 5 to 10 words of your post, or at least in the first paragraph.

Try to have the keyword account for 2-3% of the overall word count. This is called “keyword density” and is a simple calculation:

Number of words in the keyword phrase (for example, “shoes” would be 1, “red shoes” would be 2) multiplied by the number of times the keyword or keyword phrase appears in the overall post, then divided by the total word count in the post.

Tag your post if (your site has tags). Tags are short descriptions used to signal the theme(s) of your post. If it turns out that your tags and keywords are the same then that’s great but not a requirement. Use five tags maximum per post.

Rule Number 4: Check your style

Invest in a style guide. The Yahoo! Style Guide is great because 1.) it deals with all those forgettable high school grammar issues (What’s a dangling participle again?) and 2.) it’s full of the best practices for online content. You can buy it new or used on Amazon for around $10.

Four points from the style guide that you can put into practice today:

Do not underline your content when you are trying to emphasize something. Underlines can confuse readers because they appear to be links. Instead, use bold or italics.

Reserve the use of bold or italics for things you really want to draw attention to—a document littered with bold and italics tells the reader you don’t really know what’s important.


Use exclamation points sparingly. If you are trying to show excitement, then dig out the thesaurus and find the right word to convey emotion to your readers.

Rule Number 5: Finish strong

Closing out your post is one of the hardest things to do. It’s also one of the most important things to do.

Ask yourself what you want your reader to do next. You’ve got to “ask for the order” because if you’ve just written a Pulitzer-level post, then don’t waste the opportunity to get some business out of it.

A great way to finish is to have a call-to-action (CTA). Ask your reader to subscribe to your blog. Make your readers feel comfortable leaving a comment by inviting them to do so. Give them the ability to share your post with other people with social media badges or email forwarding.

These were five simple blogging rules to help you write better posts for readers and search engines. Of course, there are many more things we could mention.

What rules or tips can we add to the list of five we just started? Please comment below – it would be great to compile a list of 50 blogging rules with your input.

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Mirassou: I Love You

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“Wine anchors good memories.” ~ David Mirassou

Give me a good glass of wine and some good company to share it with and I am one happy mama.  So when a representative from Mirassou Winery invited Susanne and I to attend an exclusive wine tasting event the evening before Bloggy Boot Camp in Las Vegas last weekend the answer was a very enthusiastic YES! This post is all about our experience tasting a selection of various Mirassou wines and my personal favorites.

The event was hosted by David Mirassou himself at the exclusive Foundation Room at the top of Mandalay Bay Resort.

Susanne and I broke out our cocktail attire and as we were enjoying the breathtaking view of the Strip while sipping on a glass of chilled Mirassou Moscato, we thought, “Just our typical Friday night…” Yeah right!

The experience started with a brief story about the history of Mirassou winery as told by David and passed down through the generations. The genesis of Mirassou wines was based on a love story between his great-great-great-great-grandfather who sailed from France with his bride and his prized grape cuttings to start a winery in the sun-drenched hills of California.

As David told the story, I was struck by his love for his family and his enthusiasm for what they have created in the world of wine-making over the last 150 years.

Over the course of our evening, we were able to sample a taste of each of six different vintages.

We started off with the Moscato, a little taste of summer in a bottle.  It was sweet and a refreshing mix of peach, tangerine, melon and honeysuckle.  With a lower alcohol content, this is a perfect start to a summer evening of entertaining.

Next we moved on to the Sauvignon Blanc, which was paired delightfully with grilled asparagus.  Crisp, tropical and balanced with hints of grapefruit, melon and pear, if you love a refreshing white wine, but not quite as sweet as the Moscato, this might be the right choice for you.

The Pinot Grigio was reminiscent of the prior, but with toned down acidity making it what some would find to be a more approachable white selection with hints of ripe apple, peach and citrus.

And then we were introduced to the Chardonnay.

I just LOVE a great chardonnay and their vintage, with its kiss of oak green apple and pineapple from Monterey, was the type of wine that immediately makes you want a second glass.

Immediately I proclaimed the Chardonnay to be my favorite (I am a white wine kind of gal when given the choice)  however, that was before I met the Pinot Noir.

I don’t drink red wine that often, but one smooth sip of the Pinot Noir, and I might have been swayed to the other side.

With flavors of cherries, strawberries and red currants, the Pinot Noir was extremely silky with no bitter lingering taste.

Whereas a good chardonnay is my summer wine, the Mirassou Pinot Noir will be my new fall/winter selection.

Furthermore, if you have to bring a bottle of wine to a party, this is the perfect choice because it is so mild and versatile.

Best part?  I picked up a bottle at my local OC Ralphs this week to serve at dinner with my in-laws and with my club card, the price came to $7.99!

Just goes to show you a quality wine doesn’t have to break the bank. Mirassou: I love you.

That is also why the Mirassou Pinot Noir is the #1 best selling Pinot Noir!

Next we were on to the Cabernet Sauvignon, deeper and richer, with hints of vanilla and brown spice.  Even though it was a heavier wine than the Pinot Noir, I still found it to be extremely smooth and tasty.

We then ended with the Merlot, a sweet vintage that has had to work hard to overcome a bad rap given to it by a certain movie years ago. I know you know the one…!

And I adored this full-bodied Merlot ~ the perfect complement to a pot roast or chocolate lava cake.  Yum, can we go to dinner now?!

Wine tasting is a very personal choice, and as David so accurately stated, when it comes to wine, the most important thing is to “Drink what you like!

I can guaranteed you will find one or more Mirassou selections to fall in love with.

Click here to see where to buy Mirassou wine in Orange County.  Lucky for us, they can be found in most major grocery stores and other beverage stores throughout OC.

A very special thanks to David Mirassou for proving us with an evening that anchored many good memories!

[Disclosure: We attended the dinner and wine tasting complimentary. 100% of these opinions are my honest ones. I would love to hear your favorite Mirassou selections! Weigh in below…] 

Photo credits: Group  photos above compliments of Minnesota Girl in LA. Wine images via Mirassou.

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