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PLAYGROUND

orange county is not known for its food.  its not like l.a. we have a lot of big chain restaurants and it can be tricky finding really great food. so when we found an amazing restaurant in downtown santa ana i was thrilled!  i have to admit initially the menu threw me off.  it has some really unique options and i typically don’t love fusions or anything that seems like they’re trying too hard to be different. its not that i won’t try unique foods, i’ve eaten everything from fish eyes to frog legs and i’m not particularly picky.  i just feel like when restaurants try too hard to be different it usually ends up bad.

playground is different.  i promise!  the first time we went was with a group and we ordered a bunch of food and shared, which was a really great way to try a little bit of everything.  every single item we ordered was amazing!  ivan and i went back a second time and a loved it just as much.  the menu changes up a bit weekly but these items were there both time.  i highly recommend going!  i wish i had taken more pictures. everything was amazing!  while you’re over there drive through the floral park neighborhood, its darling.

these were our favorites–

Brussels Sprouts (Caesar, Cotija Cheese, Cornbread Crumble, Jalapeño, Radish, Scallion, Cilantro) Amazing!! i dream of these.

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Cauliflower & Sweet Onion Pakora, Cucumber & Tomato Raita,
Spicy Green Chutney

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Charred Tamaki Gold Rice & Macadamia Nuts, Salted Coconut Cream, Avocado, Pickled Veg, Wraps

Wild Mushroom Fried Rice, Parmesan, Black Truffle Aioli, Scallions

Kecap Manis Pan Fried Noodles, Housemade Spicy Chile Paste, Crushed Peanuts, Cilantro

Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken

Maple Glazed Pork Chop

Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding

Super Slutty Rice Pudding, Salted Caramel (the name is weird. ha! but promise its delicious. not your typical rice pudding. they fold whipped cream into it making it so light and delicious.)

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ORANGE COUNTY DECEMBER CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Sugar Plum Festival   Nov. 29-Dec. 3
Home decorations, garden and yard décor, jewelry, ornaments, antiques and collectibles all themed to the Christmas season.
Buena Park Downtown Mall, Lower Level
714-828-7722 / www.sugarplumfestivals.com

 

Laguna Beach Hospitality Night   Dec. 1
Downtown merchants, non-profit organizations and the Chamber provide a myriad of activities around downtown along with live musical entertainment, ice skating, strolling Victorian carolers, hot chocolate, tamale sales and more!
5-9pm / Downtown Laguna Beach
949-494-1018 / www.lagunabeachchamber.org

 

Seal Beach Holiday Parade    Dec. 1
This ‘continuous motion’ parade highlights youth groups, sports groups, schools, businesses, first responders and other organizations from Seal Beach and the surrounding areas.
7-8:45pm / Main Street from Ocean Ave to PCH
www.sealbeachlions.org

 

Newport Beach Holiday Lights Cruises   Dec. 1-31
Newport Beach begins its holiday decorations after Thanksgiving and by the first of December Newport Bay is richly illuminated with millions of lights and hundreds of themed estates.
5:30pm, 7pm & 8:30pm / Newport Landing Whale Watching
949-675-0551 / www.christmasparadeboats.com

 

SJC Tree Lighting Ceremony & Festivities   Dec. 2
Pre-show entertainment, a live stage show and official lighting of the Christmas tree.
4:15-5:45pm / Historic Town Center Park
949-493-5911 / www.sanjuanchamber.com

 

Santa’s Village by the Sea   Dec. 2
Annual tree lighting ceremony to usher in the spirit of the season with Christmas at the Casa, Snow at the Community Center, and the Del Mar Glitz. Take a picture with Santa, carolers, cookie decorating, and activities for the whole family to enjoy!
5-8pm / See website for schedule.   www.san-clemente.org

 

Christmas at the Mission   Dec. 2
Real snow sledding and play area, Dickens Carolers, Children’s and School Choirs, “Merry-achi” Music, Chamber Orchestra, Nativity Scene, Cookie decorating, Tamales, chili, sweets, spiced cider and hot cocoa, Handcrafted gifts and more.
5:30-8pm / Mission San Juan Capistrano   www.missionsjc.com

 

Dana Point Winter Festival & Tree Lighting   Dec. 2
Santa visits, carnival games, craft fair, Dana Point Police Services Kid Print ID, face painting, cookie decorating, holiday crafts, Lego Santa’s Village Workshop, the Mini Express Train, petting zoo, pony rides and the Annual Tree Lighting!
12-5pm / La Plaza Park   www.danapoint.org

 

Balboa Village Christmas Tree Lighting   Dec. 2
Home of the Fun Zone invites you to kick-off the holiday season at the beloved holiday event, Christmas at the Beach. Celebrate the season with the whole family with the Christmas tree lighting ceremony located in the OceanQuest courtyard.
5-8pm / 600 E Bay Avenue, Newport Beach
www.balboavillage.com

 

Laguna Niguel Christmas Tree Lighting   Dec. 2
Snag a cookie, don’t forget a hot drink, admire the beautiful tree and remember to blink. Santa will be there, although a little tardy, he’s never one to miss a good party!
5-7pm / City Hall   www.cityoflagunaniguel.org

 

Los Alamitos Winter Wonderland at the Plaza   Dec. 2
An area to play in the snow, activities, Santa’s Village, tree lighting ceremony, refreshments, entertainment and canned food drive.
4-7:30pm / St. Isidore Historical Plaza
562-431-3538 / www.cityoflosalamitos.org

 

Fountain Valley Tree Lighting Ceremony   Dec. 2
Will feature guests from the North Pole as well as performances by various community groups, delicious food available for purchase, games, a spectacular fireworks show, and much more!
4:30-8pm / Rec. Center & Sports Park   www.fountainvalley.org

 

Yappy Howl-iday Celebration   Dec. 3
This festive gathering of canines and their companions provides Fido with the opportunity to be photographed with the “Big Dog” himself – Santa Claus. Guests are asked to bring unopened canned or dry dog food, treats or dog toys to be donated.
11am-2pm / The Ritz-Carlton, Dana Point www.bringfido.com/event/34347

 

Orange Tree Lighting Ceremony & Candlelight Choir Procession   Dec. 3
Join us for an evening of holiday cheer and family fun as we sing traditional carols of the season with the Orange Community Master Chorale. Food and youth activities.
3:30-7pm / Old Towne Orange Plaza   www.cityoforange.org

 

Irvine Winter Wonderland   Dec. 3
Games, crafts, music, entertainment and food. Joyful Jingles holiday concert and visit from Santa Claus. Food trucks. Festive tree-lighting that includes “snow” falling over the piazza.
3-7pm / Irvine Civic Center   www.cityofirvine.org

 

Corona del Mar Christmas Walk   Dec. 3
Live entertainment, food, prizes and games! Petting zoo, beer & wine garden, opportunity drawing and more.
11am / Village of Corona del Mar   www.cdmchamber.com

 

Cypress Holiday Sing and Tree Lighting   Dec. 5
School Performances, Letters to Veterans & Santa, Holiday Crafts, Train Rides, Visits with Santa, Games, Refreshments, SPARK OF LOVE toy drive.
6pm / Civic Center Green   www.cypressca.org

 

Garden Grove Christmas Tree Lighting   Dec. 5
This free event features live entertainment and holiday refreshments. The event culminates with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, tree lighting, and a flurry of winter snow.
6:30pm / 12732 Main Street
714-741-5290 / www.ci.garden-grove.ca.us

 

La Palma Holiday Tree Lighting   Dec. 6
Enjoy the musical talents from our local schools and join in during the Community Carol Sing Along. Take a picture with Santa and his elves in the activities area before the event.
4-8:30pm / Central Park Amphitheater   www.cityoflapalma.org

 

Brea Tree Lighting Ceremony   Dec. 7
Watch the holiday tree light up the evening and see children’s eyes sparkle when Mr. and Mrs. Santa drop in for a visit. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served.
6:30pm / Civic and Cultural Center   www.ci.brea.ca.us

 

Stanton Christmas Tree Lighting   Dec. 7
Live music, arts & crafts, story time with the Stanton Library, and the lighting of the Stanton Central Park Christmas tree.
6-7:30pm / Stanton Central Park   www.ci.stanton.ca.us

 

Costa Mesa Home Tour   Dec. 7
Meet for a reception with food and music, and then jump aboard the train to visit some of Costa Mesa’s most festively decorated homes.
3-8pm / Pottery Barn South Coast Plaza
www.costamesahometour.com

 

Tustin Tree Lighting   Dec. 8
6pm / Tustin Library Courtyard
714-573-3000 / www.tustinca.org

 

Dana Point Holiday Boat Parade   Dec. 8-9 & 15-16
“A Superhero Holiday” Decorated boats light up the harbor with holiday cheer and seasonal activities are offered throughout the harbor.
4:30-9pm / Dana Point Harbor   www.danapointharbor.com

 

Laguna Niguel Holiday Parade   Dec. 9
View over 100 exciting entries including marching bands, floats, special guests, youth groups, equestrian units, exotic cars, military members, local heroes and fun attractions!
10am-Noon / Crown Valley Parkway
949-425-5100 / www.lagunaniguelparade.com

 

Santa Tour on a Fire Truck   Dec. 9
As Santa rides his fire truck he makes frequent stops along the way to share candy canes, listen to children’s Christmas wishes and to pose for some family photo fun.
8am / Villa Park   www.villapark.co/santa-tour-fire-truck

 

Villa Park Dry Land Boat Parade   Dec. 10
An asphalt harbor tour where 50 + vessels travel through Villa Park. At the Towne Centre there are tree lighting and awards ceremonies with trophies.
4:30-8:30pm / Villa Park Towne Center
www.villapark.co/dry-land-boat-parade

 

The Holly Jolly Light Tour   Dec. 8-9
Enjoy a VIP reception and then tour the Home Lighting Contest displays aboard a warm comfortable bus.
6pm & 8pm / Mission Viejo Civic Center
www.cityofmissionviejo.org

 

Breakfast with Santa   Dec. 9
Join us for a special celebration complete with a scrumptious breakfast, photos with Santa and holiday crafts.
9-11am / Laguna Hills Community Center
949-707-2680 / www.ci.laguna-hills.ca.us

 

Huntington Harbour Boat Parade   Dec. 9-10
Watch as beautifully decorated boats parade through the harbor to celebrate the holiday season.
5:15pm / 16370 PCH, Huntington Beach
714-840-7542 / www.hhboatparade.org

 

Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour   Dec. 10
One of Orange County’s most loved Holiday Home Walking Tours returns this year with seven uniquely holiday decorated island homes and cottages.
11am-4pm / 331 Marine Avenue   www.balboaislandNB.org

 

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade   Dec. 13-17
Beautiful multi-million dollar yachts, kayaks, canoes and other small boats will light up the harbor as a dazzling array of holiday lights and music fill the air.
6:30-9pm / Newport Beach Harbor, Bay Island
www.christmasboatparade.com

 

Cruise of Lights   Dec. 15-18 & 21-23
Both locals and visitors share the beauty of thousands of lights and animated displays on brightly decorated homes, docks, decks and boats.
16889 Algonquin Street, Huntington Beach
714-840-7542 / www.cruiseoflights.org

 

Operation Santa   Dec. 16
Food and gift items collected for pre-qualified families in need are distributed. Kids and families can visit with Santa and play carnival-style games.
9am-Noon / La Habra Community Center
562-383-4217 / www.lahabracity.com

 

Inaugural Charity Event 5K Walk/Run/Skip   Dec. 16
Bring an unwrapped toy. T-shirt, Medal, & Swag Bag Included to all that pre-register!
9am / Lake Forest Sports Park
www.lakeforestcachamber.com

 

Chanukah Wonderland/Menorah Lighting   Dec. 17
Enjoy live entertainment, activities, and crafts, as well as your favorite Chanukah, treats – latkes, dreidels, and more! Bring your family, friends, and lots of holiday spirit!
5:30-7:30pm / Laguna Niguel City Hall
949-831-7701 / www.cityoflagunaniguel.org

 

Fullerton Holiday Festival   Dec. 17
Live stage performances and an arts and crafts fair. Food vendors and exclusive craft beer selections! Free art workshops for kids, a children’s play area, and a special appearance by Santa Claus.
12-4pm / Muckenthaler Cultural Center   www.themuck.org

 

Int’l Christmas Nativity Play & Celebration   Dec. 17
A celebration that brings together a diverse group of churches, singers, dancers for a celebration that highlights the true meaning of the holiday season.
6-8pm / Old World Village, Huntington Beach
714-895-8020 / www.oldworld.ws

 

Winter Fest   Dec. 21-Jan. 7
Outdoor ice rink, 130-foot, six lane Snowflake Summit ice slide, a play park featuring real snow, strolling carolers and personal visits in the cabin of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Festival of Lights walk-through holiday light show featuring.
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa   www.winterfestoc.com

 

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HOME TOUR- THE GREAT PARK

this past weekend i toured model homes in the great park. if you haven’t been to the great park you should go! the great park is approximately 1,300 acres of parks, sports complex, farms, homes, schools, farmers market and of course the big orange balloon you can see from miles away. they are really building this master plan community into something awesome! here are a few shots i took of the Jade series at Parasol Park built by Pulte Homes.

the first home i toured was the Harmony X (3 story). 2,297 sq ft. 3 bed 2 bath. prices starting at $938,880. the island in this kitchen was massive. pictures don’t do it justice. the kitchen had so much natural lighting with large sliding doors opening to the courtyard from the kitchen.

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i love the open concept with the family room directly off the kitchen.

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the second house is the Justice X (3story). 2,424 sq ft. 3 bed 2 bath starting at $941,880.

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the third story on both houses were set up as bonus rooms which i thought was brilliant. a great place for the kids to go and hang out. the bonus rooms open up to a balcony. in california we spend so much time outside, having that indoor/outdoor space is very desirable.

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