Holiday Gift Idea for Kids’ Friends: Peppermint Play Dough

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This holiday gift idea for your kid’s friends, homemade peppermint play dough (doh), is not only inexpensive, but such a fun project to do with your kids!

Peppermint Play Dough (Doh) Recipe

* 2 Cups White Flour

* Liquid Water Color or Food Coloring (as much as needed to get the color you want)

* 1/2 Cup Salt

* 3 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar (This was hard to find for me, I never saw it before, but it can be found in the area with the salt and looks like baking powder.)

* 2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

* 1 Tablespoon Peppermint Extract (Optional – but this is what makes it smell SO good!)

Ready, set, make!

1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a whisk.

2. Add 2 cups of water and your coloring of choice to get desired color.

3. Mix well with a wisk.

4. Add vegetable oil and peppermint extract.

5. Mix well with a wisk, then stir/smooth batter with a soft spoon or  spatula.

6. Pour batter into a large skillet or electric pan and cook on medium heat while stirring constantly. Continue stirring and turning until play dough is cooked, thick, and no longer shiny. Don’t be afraid, the pan will clean easily. It cooked for me in about 5 – 7 minutes.

7. Remove from heat and place on counter top. When it cools, knead it over and over until it is the consistency you like. Be careful, it will be HOT!

Peppermint Play Dough Holiday Gift for Kids

We divided our batch of peppermint play doh into small red and green balls, put in cellophane themed holiday bags, and then tied a Christmas cookie cutter to it for my daughter’s friends.

Make a cute little sticker gift tag using a festive Christmas font and it makes for such a darling little gift.  If you are needing to do gifts for a large number of little friends, this is a great option, plus it it cheap!

If you keep it in an air tight container, it will keep for a long time and doesn’t get as messy as other kinds.  Believe it or not, I got a text that my friend’s kids were still playing with their peppermint play doh almost a year later!

Do you have any inexpensive gift ideas for your kid’s friends?

[Recipe compliments of Miss Susie at  St. Andrews Parent/Child Program.]


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Christmas Ornament Tradition for Kids

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I have written about this Christmas ornament tradition for kids in past years but wanted to post again for any new readers because I love this tradition my mother started for me as a little girl.

Every year since I was born, I got one special Christmas ornament. When I was too small to chose, my mom chose them for me.  As I got older, I would get to pick out my yearly ornament and it would get written on our Christmas ornament sheet, documenting our selection and the year.

Through the years, the collection grew. A trolley car ornament from our trip to San Francisco, a cheerleader for the year I was on my first cheerleading team, a glass Christmas tree that sparkles against the tree lights that I still remember picking out and is still one of my favorites.

When I graduated college and moved into my first apartment with my own Christmas tree for the first time, my mom packed up all of my ornaments dating back to 1974 and gave them to me along with the list.

Every year to this day, my tree is decorated with childhood memories.

I am carrying on this tradition with my two girls and hope it means as much to them as it did to me!  What holiday traditions do you do for your children?

[Photo credit: copyright 2005 trec_lit, Flickr]

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San Juan Capistrano Tree Lighting Event

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The San Juan Capistrano Tree Lighting event came recommended by a reader as the “best holiday event in South County hands down!” so I had to do a post to share the information because it looks like a spectacular OC holiday event for kids.

The San Juan Capistrano Annual Tree Lighting Celebration takes place this Saturday, December 1st, 2012 starting at 4:00pm at Historic Town Center Park.

The pre-show includes a choir, orchestra and dance performances by local high school students.  The main show begins at 5:00pm featuring a special performance with the tree lighting at 5:45pm.

Highlights of this OC Christmas event include:

~ Live Nativity Performances at 6:15pm and 7:00pm at ZOOMARS Petting Zoo
~ Free Admission at ZOOMARS Petting Zoo until 9pm
~ ZOOMARS will also be offering train rides for $3 and Hay Rides for $4
~ Free photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus from 6-8pm at the Los Rios Park Plaza Area.
~ Free Christmas Train Ride 6-8pm at the Los Rios Park Plaza
~ Moonlight Shop & Dine where downtown shops & Los Rios District open until 9pm with special discounts and free goodies.

Click here to download the full event program with times and click here for a detailed map.

Christmas at the Mission 

Following the tree lighting event, families can check out Christmas at the Mission from 5:30 – 8:00pm where you can check out an exhibition of local music performance groups, Santa’s Workshop with cookie decorating for kids, food vendors serving tamales, pizza, hot cocoa and more, and the beautiful historic mission festively lit up for this special after hours event.

Admission is $5/adults, $3/children and kids 3 and under are free. Visit for more information.

Ohhhhh….this puts me in the BEST holiday spirit!  Bring on the Christmas festivities!! Love it!


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Fit Mamas Workouts at PURE sports fitness and therapy

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In the aftermath of Thanksgiving feasting, I am happy to share a new mom-friendly exercise program called Fit Mamas Workouts launching in December at PURE sports fitness and therapy in OC.

I also have two one-month Fit Mamas memberships to give away today, and everyone that enters is eligible to receive one free week of Fit Mamas classes, so make sure to enter below.

But first, do you answer “yes” to any of these questions?

~ Do you struggle with what to do with your kids when you want to workout?

~ Do you have a child who will not go in the gym nursery without putting up a royal fit?

~ Is your child too wiggly for a decent stroller workout?

Then Fit Mamas is the perfect answer for you!

Fit Mamas Workouts get you in, work you hard and get you out quick, all within 45-minutes. Total. While you workout, your child will be entertained by a babysitter in the same area with coloring, crafts and games, so your little ones can see you and vice versa, at all times.

Offering both a pre/postnatal workout and a tough “get my body back” workout, space is limited to 8 women per session so the instructor can devote attention to each mama.

Coming this December these classes will be offered:

Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-9:50am
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-10:50am

Starting in January, Fit Mamas classes will be offered 5 days a week.

All moms pay a one time $59 initiation fee.

Membership fees are as follows:

$89/month unlimited sessions (starting January 2013)
$79/month  for 3 sessions per week (starting January 2013)
$69/month for 2 sessions per week

Call the studio at 949.916.3558 for reservations or to learn more.

It’s a Tiny Giveaway! Two lucky readers will each win a one month membership to take Fit Mamas classes for the for winner’s choice of January or February 2013 (initiation fee included in the prize.) Anyone that enters this giveaway is also eligible to receive a free week of Fit Mamas classes during the same time period. Reference Tiny Oranges when calling to make your reservation. Good luck!

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Christmas Train Ticket Giveaway

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Now that Thanksgiving is past, I feel like I am REALLY getting into the Christmas spirit, so I thought it fitting to kick off the week with this Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train ticket giveaway!

This is one of the best OC Christmas events for kids in my opinion.

Take your family for an enchanting night train ride through historic Irvine Regional Park to meet Santa Claus! The train will depart every 15 minutes from the brightly-lit train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole.

Christmas Train tickets may be purchased to ride the train at a specific date and time. When you arrive, you get in line and board the train any time during the hour for which you purchase tickets. Tickets may be purchased online, visit for details.

While waiting to board the train, there are many activities for children to enjoy in Santa’s Village located next to the train station. Activities will open one hour prior to when the Christmas Train runs and include storytime with Mrs. Claus, Christmas cookie decorating, carnival games, bounce house, coloring corner and picture stands

At the North Pole, visitors may purchase coffee, hot chocolate, freshly-popped popcorn and cookies from the Elf House Snack Bar. A full kitchen menu is also available at the train station.

Visitors may take their own pictures with Santa or you may purchase a picture taken by Irvine Park Railroad. Each 5” x 7” photo will be presented with an Irvine Park Railroad border and available for pickup shortly after being taken.

After visiting with Santa, hop back aboard the train and enjoy the colorful Christmas lights and decorations, as well as the magical “Tunnel of Lights”, on the ride back to the station.

When visiting the Christmas Train, remember to dress warmly, bring a camera and arrive early to avoid crowds.

Visit this Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train page online for dates and times the train is running, along with prices for the activities.

The cost to ride the Christmas Train is $10.00 per person. Children younger than 24 months ride free.

The parking for Irvine Regional Park is $3.00 per vehicle on weekdays and $5.00 per vehicle on weekends. Parking for the Christmas Train is free after 5:00 PM.

For pricing, park directions and complete details, please visit

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