OC Play Parks

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Ever find yourself looking for a new place to go but don’t want to spend any money?  Getting a little tired of going to the same parks and playgrounds?  If yes, you have to check out OC Play Parks!  An awesome web guide to parks for playful families in Orange County.  I love checking out this site, and finding new parks to try out.   You can click on parks by city and there are slide shows and pictures of the parks featured.  Even better, for each park, she lists the highlights, cautions, and checklist of amentities that you need to know (is there a bathroom? how’s parking? etc.) It’s a community website, where everyone can submit their favorite parks to share. The process to submit a park is super easy, a one page form. So, if you go on the site and don’t see one of your favorites, click here to submit yours! Many families will benefit from you taking the time to do this! 

A couple comments from Michele, the founder of the website:

“I’m especially looking for families in Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos/Rossmoor, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda (basically north county and inland) to recommend some great parks in their areas by submitting it on this simple form (only the park name and address are required – filling out the other info is optional). I only post info from the LOCAL experts – either from the form or I interview families at play when I take pics. No ones knows their neighborhood park better than the families who frequent it. Consider it community service. I can’t think of anything better than the imagination explosion when kids explore a new playground.”

Happy exploring!

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Dream Dinners’…Is a DREAM!

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I have always wanted to try Dream Dinners’  but I was a little hesitant because I thought it was super expensive.   But as I recently found out at my first Dream Dinners’ experience, that is not the case! 

It is a brilliant concept:  yummy menus, pre-cut ingredients, easy assembly, and take home dinners you can freeze until ready to cook.  For those that are cooking challenged like me, or those simply super busy moms, Dream Dinners’ is really a dream come true!   I am HOOKED.   It is SO fun and easy, and such a relief to have dinners prepped and ready to cook for those busy week nights (and the dinners are amazing!!)  Not to mention it’s a good excuse to have a night out with a girlfriend to chat and catch up!    

Here is how it works:

1. Visit the Dream Dinners’ Irvine website to check out the menu and choose your session time. They have minimum of 12 (3 serving) dinners or 6 (6 serving) dinners for each session (36 servings total, you can mix between 3 and 6 servings if you want.) 
2. You can click here to see the November menu and pay around with the quantities and servings so you can see the total price the session would cost. I did a couple of combos to test out the total and mine came to anywhere between $149 – $168.  I always thought it was way over $200+.
3. Once your menu is selected, you then reserve your session time.

When you show up for your session, they have a little drawer with your name on it so you can store your purse and grab an apron. There are several different assembly stations where you will prepare each of your menus. You grab Ziploc baggies and then head to your first station. At the station, there are super easy (dummy proof – yes, I am the dummy that tested it), instructions on how to prepare your meal. All the ingredients are prepped and cut, so all you have to do is measure and put the ingredients together. They have pre-printed cooking instruction labels at the station, so once you are done assembling, you put the label on the bag, stash in the big fridge and then move onto the next station.

Some fun things to note!

They do fundraisers, catering, do-it-yourself catering, and have a concierge service, where for $2.50 per meal, they will assemble the dinners for you and you just pick it up. They also offer “Sneak Peek” parties where you can arrage to have a group of friends come and assemble dinners together. You can bring your own wine and have a little vino while preparing and chatting with your friends!  Contact Asea at asea.tremp@dreamdinnersirvine.com for more details on this.   They also provide appetizers and soft drinks for each session.    

Wouldn’t this be an awesome thing to do with a group of friends when a fellow mommy friend is about to have a baby?  You could all come together, do your own dinners, and contribute one dinner each to a new mom for that “just home from the hospital” time. 

Mention Tiny Oranges when signing up and receive a FREE side dish to accompany your dinner!

HOORAY! It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

DreamDinners’ Irvine is giving away a Sneak Peek party of up to 12 people at the Irvine location! This means you can invite up to 12 friends to come to the party, they will provide appetizers and sodas (you can provide the wine if you wish)  and each friend can assemble their own free dinner! What a fun way to spend a girls’ night out, and get some healthy dinners prepped for your family at the same time!

To enter, send me an email with DREAM DINNERS’ in the subject line (one entry per person please!) Include your first name, last initial, and the answer to this question: Which dinner on the November menu looks extra yummy to you? Click here to see the menu. You can enter all week, just have your emails in by Friday, Nov. 14th by 5PM PST. 

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Mommy Mixer

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Are you looking for a great sitter?   MommyMixer is the hot new service that connects college students looking for fun babysitting jobs with busy families that need occasional help, and now MommyMixer has come to the OC.  Their fun events are a dash of get-to-know-ya, shopping and goodies!  There’s no better way to get hooked up with the babysitter of your dreams and have a little fun while doing so.    

MommyMixer OC has teamed up with No Rest for Bridget (a darling boutique) and invite you to join them for an exclusive this Sunday.  Here are the details:

Sunday, November 9th, 2008
1:00 – 2:30pm
No Rest for Bridget
250 East 17th Street
Costa Mesa, CA

If you can make it, go quickly (they only have limited spaces) and fill out this form & make your $100 payment to register.

OR, invite a friend and ONLY pay $50!  To receive the discounted rate, put your friends name in the event box as well as the date of the Mixer you are attending and your friend needs to register and put YOUR name down too!  Then, come to the mixer, find great babysitters and have a little shopping fun!

Have an awesome weekend everyone!  It is supposed to be beautiful!  See you back on Monday for another FAB giveaway!  

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Comfiest Flats Ever

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This time change is killing me!  Anyone else?  We are all up so early, geesh, by the time it’s 9am, it feels like it should be lunchtime.   I hope things shift into a later sleep in schedule SOON!  I have been exhausted all week.   Moving on…

Something happened to me since becoming a mom –  I have no tolerance for uncomfortable shoes!   Given the normal adventures of a day with a toddler, there is no room for aching feet with all the activity.  I recently purchased these flats (in bronze) at the Naturalizer store in South Coast.  I just love them, they are the most comfortable flats ever. Click here to purchase online.   Great for fall with a cute pair of jeans.     

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Easy Meatloaf

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1 1/2 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
3/4 cup Quaker oats
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Bacon bits

1. Heat oven to 350.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix lightly, but thoroughly. 
3. Press meatloaf mixture into an 8 x 4 loaf pan that has been sprayed with Pam.
4. Pour ketchup and sprinkle bacon bits on top.
5. Bake uncovered about 1 hour.  
6. Remove, cover with foil and let stand about 5 minutes.   
7. Drain off any juices before slicing.

I serve this with Trader Joe’s mashed potatoes which are SO good and SO easy considering they are instant.  Buy them in the frozen section.  They are in a red bag, and called “Lamb Weston Inland Valley” Homestyle Mashed Potatoes. See link above for a picture. 

So, make your meatloaf, micro your mashed potatoes (or make the real deal if you are a better cook than me!), micro some frozen peas and voila…homestyle dinner that is quick and easy!  You can use the leftovers to make meatloaf sandwiches. 

Gals, I really want your easy recipes!  Send them over to info@tinyoranges.com with RECIPE in the subject line.   Thank you!

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