The Orange Empire Railway Museum Train to Santa’s Workshop

Last year our family discovered a magical Christmas adventure! We loved it so much that it will now be a family tradition every year. We took the Train to Santa’s Workshop at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris and what a special evening it was. Beginning at the end of November, you can take one of Orange Empire Railway Museum’s vintage trains and embark on a magical train ride to visit with Santa Claus himself at his North Pole workshop. The evening includes not only a visit with Santa himself, but lots of fun activities including a model train display, cocoa and cookies and chatting with Santa’s elves and Mrs. Claus. The Orange Empire Railway Museum is about a 40 minute drive from Orange County without traffic. I feel the trek is worth it, and if you plan ahead, you can grab a bite to eat before you head to the train station to begin your journey.

Since we’ve only been once, I can only provide you with my one time experience, but I continue to hear great things about the Train to Santa’s Workshop. We took the 7:00pm train because I wanted it to be dark and more of a Polar Express experience. It was not crowded at all, but I heard that the 5:30 train was filled to capacity, so I would expect that would change the experience a bit.

I also made the entire family wear matching pajamas. Since I had never been, I read on their website that they recommended wearing pajamas. However, most only children wear wearing them. BUT…I wouldn’t worry about that. WEAR YOUR PAJAMAS. It totally made the night, and everyone kept coming up to us saying we looked so festive and that they wished they would have worn theirs too. So I highly recommend. I asked my kids…including my teenager if they would wear their pajamas again this year, and they all said absolutely. It was so much fun.

The cool thing about this train ride, is that it takes place in a vintage train. A fully working train! You are sitting inside…not outside getting cold. It takes you on a 20 minute ride to visit Santa where you can watch out the windows, or talk to the conductor. 

One of Santa’s elves came through and talked to the kids and gave everyone a candy cane. It was great. Other elves led the passengers in Christmas songs, holiday trivia games and storytelling. 

As the train arrived at Santa’s Workshop, you could see Santa waving at the kids as the train arrived. The kids were so excited! We didn’t know what to expect, but we were very impressed! The entire workshop was dressed up for Christmas, and we couldn’t wait to board off the train to check it out.

We got to get our photos with Santa. You need to bring your own camera. Santa also gives each kids a stuffed toy.

Then we explored the workshop and took lots of photos with the kids. 

After you visit Santa, kids can do Christmas crafts or chat with Mrs. Claus and the elves. There are also lots of photo opps.

There are also train tables to enjoy (check out my older boys playing with the younger ones…LOVE IT), and also Thomas the Train ride ons for the littlest kids. Everyone loves trains.

When everyone had finished visiting Santa and enjoying his workshop, we boarded the train to go back to the train station. Santa waved goodbye to everyone. 

We then took the train back to the Pinacate Station. We were sad to leave…but more fun was coming up.

At the Pinacate Station boarding area, there is a huge model train display to enjoy and also vendors selling Christmas crafts and presents. If you decide to take the 7:00pm train, you may want to visit this area before you head over to see Santa. It closed pretty quickly when we got back, and we probably would have enjoyed visiting a bit longer.

If you wrote a letter to Santa, make sure to put it in Santa’s mailbox!

You can even get a cup of cocoa and a cookie to enjoy while you look at the trains. This is all included in your admission ticket.

It was the perfect way to end the night and keep ourselves warm and cuddly. 

The Train to Santa’s Workshop at the Orange Empire Railway Museum was great. There was a magical feeling in the air throughout the entire night. And my family had the best time. It truly left us with a festive Christmas spirit and fun memories we will never forget. Can’t wait to go again this year!

Make sure to get your tickets soon. Not sure if they will sell out, but you don’t want to miss your chance.

150 Christmas and Holiday Family Events in Orange County


(updated 2018)
I officially declare it holiday season here in Orange County. Believe it or not, Christmas events are already beginning to pop up all around Southern California!  So, here’s a list of over 150 Holiday Events in Orange County, including Christmas events, Hanukkah events and winter celebrations. It’s a tradition and a gift to all of my readers! I want you to be informed of all fun things happening this holiday season in the OC. All of the events on this list are family-friendly, and take place around the OC and Southern California this holiday season.

So get your calendar out, pick the events that look the most fun for you and your family, and get ready to make this wonderful holiday season, one that your family will always remember! ( Please be sure to check back, as i will be adding more events to this list as they’re announced. If you have an event you would like to include, please email or message me on Facebook.)

 

Santa Events
Breakfast with Santa
December 1 & 2, 2018  |  8:30 – 11:00am  | The Children’s Museum at La Habra
Get your fill of holiday cheer with yummy treats, make-n-take ornaments and a photo with Santa Claus himself. Guests are welcome to play in the Museum too! To reserve and pay for your tickets by phone, call (562)383-4236 or email museumstaff@lahabraca.gov. Seating times 8:30am, 9:45am & 11am CMLH Members $2 discount per person Kids $11 Adults $13 (under 2 free, lap sitting only)

Breakfast with Santa at CPK
Call for Dates | 9:00 – 11:00pm  | California Pizza Kitchen, Irvine Spectrum
Join California Pizza Kitchen for Breakfast with Santa. $10 per person which includes your choice of breakfast pizza and beverage. Reservations are Required. Call 949-585-9531 to reserve your spot today.

Breakfast with Santa at Applebee’s
December 15, 2018  | 8:00 – 10:00am  | Applebee’s, Anaheim Town Square
Enjoy breakfast with Santa for only $10 per person. Proceeds benefit families in need.

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train to Santa
November 30 – December 23, 2018  | Irvine Park Railroad
Take this enchanting night ride through historic Irvine Regional Park to meet Santa Claus. Christmas train will depart from the twinkling train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole. Children can share their wishlist with Santa and have a photo taken with him. TICKETS SELL OUT FAST, PURCHASE NOW.

Santa Arrival Parade in Anaheim
TBD  | 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.  | Anaheim Town Square
Real snow play area, photos with Santa, Kids Craft Activity, Face Painting, Balloon Artist, Train Rides and more! FREE

Visit & Photos with Santa
December 12 & 21, 2018  |  9:30 – 11:30am  |  Pretend City Children’s Museum
You better watch out, you better not cry…Santa Claus is coming to Pretend City! Join us as we meet jolly ‘ol Saint Nick, tell him our holiday wishes, and sit on his lap for a photo! You don’t want to miss out on this exclusive holiday happening at our museum! Santa is coming to Pretend City Children’s Museum! Join us for this great opportunity to meet and tell Santa your holiday wish. Our Santa visit and photo opportunity provides an experience with Christmas carols, lights, and Santa himself. This is a wonderful opportunity for grown-ups to capture photos and give your child the chance to share their Christmas wish lists with this Jolly Ole’ Fellow. Don’t forget to bring a camera!

Yappy Howl-iday 2018
December 2, 2018  |  11:00am – 2:00pm  |  Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
Santa Claus will make a special appearance for the Yappy Howl-iday Celebration. This festive gathering of canines and their companions provides Fido with the opportunity to be photographed with the “Big Dog” himself – Santa Claus. In keeping with the resort’s Season of Giving, guests are asked to bring unopened canned or dry dog food, treats or dog toys to be donated to an animal rescue organization. Proceeds support The Canine Companions Veterans Initiative. FREE

Yuletide Tea with Santa
November 23 – December 24, 2018 • Friday – Sunday  | 2 – 5:00pm  | Pelican Hill Resort
The holidays are Santa’s cup of tea, and Pellican Hill would like you to join them in the Great Room Social Lounge for a modern twist on the time-honored tradition of gathering for afternoon tea. Sip contemporary blends featuring classic selections while you nosh on savory and sweet small bites. Tea-based cocktails and sparkling wines available à la carte.

Kris Kringle Story Time Mingle
November 23 – December 23, 2018  • Friday – Sunday  | 3 – 5:00pm  | Pelican Hill Resort
Santa’s parking his sleigh and setting up shop in the Main Estate Lobby, where he’ll be reading stories, taking photos and delighting kids of all ages. Gather ‘round the gingerbread display for three story times at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., and be sure to stick around during intermission to take photos and visit with jolly old St. Nick.

Breakfast with Santa at Downtown Disney
December 1 – 23, 2018 | 8:00am – noon | Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney
Santa Claus is coming to town and he’s paying a very special visit to Catal Restaurant. Join jolly old Saint Nick and his merry band of elves for a classic Breakfast with Santa experience. Guests are invited to feast on a decadent family-style spread of menu offerings like buttermilk pancakes, crispy bacon, and farm fresh eggs while Charles Dickens carolers serenade them with their favorite festive tunes. Adults are welcome to sip on bottomless mimosas while little ones are treated to a cookies and milk station and steaming cups of hot chocolate from the cocoa cart. After they share their Christmas wishes with Santa, he will gift every child with a Build-a-Bear™ Workshop teddy bear in addition to a personalized stocking and a complimentary photo print of their magical time with him.

Harley-Davidson CHOC Toy Drive Pick-Up
December 14, 2018  |  12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  |  Pretend City Children’s Museum
Santa traded in his sleigh for a Harley! Stop by the museum today and watch the fleet of Harleys, including Santa, pick up new toys from Pretend City Children’s Museum! All the toys we collect in our toy drive will be taken to CHOC by Santa and the Harley crew! Help us collect toys through December 22nd! Durable, cleanable toys are best for a hospital setting.

Surfer Santa Photos
December 14 & 15, 2018 | Huntington Harbour Mall
Here comes Santa Claus…SURFER SANTA! Come on over to meet and take a picture with Surfer Santa! There will also have face painting and a craft station, where you can write your own personal letter to SANTA!

Santa Visits the Anaheim Packing House
December 15, 2018  |  2:00 – 5:00 p.m.  |  Pretend City Children’s Museum
Gather your Christmas wishes, and grab the camera phone as Santa visits the Anaheim Packing House. Free organic candy canes will be given while supplies last.

Pet Photos with Santa
November 25 & December 9, 2018  | 7:00 – 8:30pm  | Brea Mall
Bring your pet to pose with Santa. Find Santa in Center Court.

Pet Photos with Santa
December 9, 2018  | 7:00 – 8:00pm  | Shops at Mission Viejo
Bring your pet to pose with Santa. Find Santa on the Lower Level near Nordstrom.

Santa Paws Photos
December 1, 2018  | 10:00am – 3:00pm |  Dana Point El Torito Courtyard
Bring your furry friends to have their picture taken with Santa, photos are $15 and benefit the animals at The San Clemente-Dana Point Animals Shelter.

Pet Photos with Santa
December 2 & 12, 2018  |  6:00 – 9:00pm  |  MainPlace Mall
Families are invited to bring their four legged friends to pose with Santa. Please be sure to have your pet on a leash or in a pet carrier. 

Santa Paws Photos
December 9, 2018  | 10:00am – 3:00pm |  Outlets of San Clemente
Bring your furry friends to have their picture taken with Santa, photos are $15 and benefit the animals at The San Clemente-Dana Point Animals Shelter.

• Fashion Island Santa Hours.
• MainPlace Mall Santa Hours
• Brea Mall Santa Hours
• The Shops at Mission Viejo Santa Hours
• Laguna Hills Mall Santa Hours
• Irvine Spectrum Santa Hours
Outlets of San Clemente Santa Hours

Holiday Light Displays in the OC
60+ Christmas Light Displays
• Nellie Gail Road in Laguna Hills
• Candy Cane Lane | El Corzo Street in Rancho Santa Margarita
• Birch Street in Brea
• Belquest Drive in Lake Forest

Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour
December 9, 2018  |  11:00am – 4:00pm  |  La Habra Children’s Museum
The winter holidays are always a festive time on Balboa Island. Many people visit the Island to enjoy not only the Newport Beach Boat Parade but to view the multitude of Island homes decorated for the holidays. During the holiday season the Island becomes an incredible display of decorations and lights of many colors. Magical! To add to the festivities this year the Balboa Island Improvement Association (BIIA) presents the 22nd Annual Holiday Home Tour. Eight home owners open their homes to display the unique character of island living during the holiday season. Each home is decorated for the holidays. The Annual Holiday Home Tour is the major fund raising event to support the Balboa Island Improvement Association. 
Read More…

The Scary Side of Parenting

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pampers at Sam’s Club. The opinions and text are all mine.

Halloween is just around the corner, so lets talk about something scary. PARENTING. Because if you’re a parent, pretty much every day can be little scary. Funny thing, being a parent has made me the happiest ever in my life…and at the same time, the most scared. After four kids, I have had my share of scary experiences.

Every day there is something new. Kids get sick…it’s scary. Kids getting lost while on a shopping trip…it’s scary. Kids choking on something at meal time…it’s scary. All things I have experienced. Luckily in the end, everything usually turns out fine.

And then there is the day to day scary. Like the fact that kids break everything, they stain their clothes, and have monster tantrums. And yes, it’s pretty scary when you walk into a room and find your toddler sitting on your computer.

Or when your toddler helps themselves to a snack.

I’ve never been so scared for the walls in my house. I have a little monster artist. Every wall is colored on and I have a date with a bucket of paint and paintbrush every night. Sigh…looks like I will be covering them in butcher paper asap. Or until I can get my older boys on board with putting their pens and pencils away properly. Yes…older kids can be scary too…did I mention that I have a teenager?!!! Scary.

And then there’s poop! Little ones in diapers can lead to all sorts of scary experiences – the dreaded blowout, the mad dash to remove the Halloween costume before a poop explosion, or how about checking the diaper bag just to find out there are no diapers when your out in public. Ugh!

Yep…PARENTING IS SCARY!

While most of all the parenting scariness can’t be escaped, buying Pampers at Sam’s Club can definitely help you to avoid running out of AND paying too much for diapers and wipes!

With instant savings plus FREE SHIPPING on both…you won’t want to miss this deal. You have enough to be scared of already and you don’t need to be scared that diapers and wipes will take all your money. NOW through November 25th, Sam’s Club members can get $3 off each box of Pampers diapers and Pampers wipes at Sam’s Club and on samsclub.com. NEW 2x softer Pampers Cruisers, NEW best-fitting Cruisers with 3-way fit and other Pampers products are $3.00 off. With free shipping, all you have to do is shop online or on the Sam’s Club app and have diapers delivered right to your door…now that is convenience!

Finally…while we all can probably agree that parenting can be really scary. We can also all agree that we wouldn’t change it for the world. Our kiddies are our world and we love them to pieces. A big deep breath, a vacuum, lots of laundry detergent, a good friend’s shoulder to cry on and a lot of patience can get us through most of the scary times. I have found that if I can end each day with a hug and a kiss with each of my kids, and a quick clean up of the house, that all the scary memories of the day melt away. Did I mention how AMAZING parenting is?!!!

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pampers at Sam’s Club. The opinions and text are all mine.}

Family Fun at Legoland Brick Or Treat Nights

Got a LEGO lover who also loves Halloween? Then Legoland Brick Or Treat is the event for you! We had the chance to check it out this year and it was so much fun for my boys. One of their favorite events of the year at Legoland California.

Legoland Brick-or-Treat happens every Saturday during the month of October, and is a separate ticketed event. You can either buy a ticket exclusively for Brick-Or-Treat, or include it for an additional fee in your all-day admission ticket. It includes fun Halloween activities throughout the park and Sealife such as trick-or-treating, costume contest, Halloween entertainment, rides, shows and more!

I would highly recommend getting to Brick-Or-Treat as soon as the party begins and wearing costume. This will give you the most time to go trick-or0treating during the event, and also get the best pictures. Check out this fun scarecrow we met!

Trick-or treating is the main attraction during Brick-Or-Treat nights. There are lots of stations throughout the park. Some of them have snacks instead of candy, you can also get a souvenir brick and a LEGO magazine. All the candy is allergy friendly, so that is a great thing for those with allergies.

The only Halloween themed ride at Legoland is the Boo Cruise, so your might want to stop at that ride if you have time.

Our favorite thing to do at Brick Or Treat nights is to walk around the park and enjoy the entertainment. There are musical stations, fun shows and costumed characters that tell jokes and dance with you. Dani really enjoyed all the bubble stations.

This year, kids can earn Halloween buttons by solving the riddles and doing tasks. Head over to LEGO City near the Fire Brigade area to earn them. Make sure to solve the clues in your Brick Or Treat guide. You will also find all the happening off the evening in the guide.

In Heartlake City, you can do Halloween crafts and enjoy the Heartlake City Fall Festival. There are also trick or treat station located in this area.

We couldn’t visit Legoland without getting our favorite Legoland treat. The Granny Smith Apple fries with whipped cream are the best! During the fall season, Legoland also offer apple cider and pumpkin crepes. So you might want to check those out as well.

Everyone is allowed to wear costumes to Brick Or Treat Nights, and you will find that everyone goes all out. The costume contest is a big attraction for guests, and everyone is welcome to enter. Just make sure to follow the guidelines on the website. We love all the photo opps in the park as well.

Thanks for the fun time at Brick Or Treat Legoland!  we will be back next year. It’s tradition.

{Disclosure: We were given tickets to this event, but we would have gone regardless! All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

Easy Vegan Fall Wild Rice and Vegetable Soup Recipe

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

It’s finally Fall…which is both crazy (where did the summer go) and exciting! The weather is starting to cool down here in Orange County….well kind of. and even though it barely feels like Fall, I’m ready to start enjoying soup for dinner every night.

There’s a reason Fall is the favorite season of many – the slightly brisk air, pumpkin patches and of course, that autumn glow everywhere you look. Fall is when things start to slooooow down from the crazy summer and we finally get to enjoy all the fruits and veggies of the summer harvest. I know a lot of us have summer gardens. so how about a Fall soup recipe to use those veggies in. Our family just loves soup – and it’s easy to make too. here, I am sharing one of my new favorite soup recipes for Vegan Fall Wild Rice and Vegetable Soup.

Many of you may already know that I am vegetarian. and when I can, I like to eat vegan. This recipe is creamy, savory and full of hearty vegetables and wild rice. it’s dairy-free and uses Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk. whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just looking to get more plants into your diet, Silk is a great dairy-free, plant-based option AND when you buy it at Target, you’ll get savings to fit your lifestyle. Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free products are available at Target. and if you download and use the Target app, you can get 10-15% off on them between 10/14 – 11/11 – this includes Silk Half Gallons & Silk & So Delicious Dairy Free plant-based yogurts.

You don’t have to ask me twice to go to Target…it’s my FAVORITE store. Everything you need for this recipe is available at Target. plus, with the savings you get with the Target app, you can head over to the seasonal section and pick out some cute Fall decorations.

Now that we have gathered all our ingredients at Target, let me share with you this plant-based soup recipe.

How to Make Vegan Fall Wild Rice and Vegetable Soup

This soup is full of family-friendly vegetables and has a great Fall flavor. Earthy and savory. What’s great about this soup, and most other soups, is that you can prepare and make it ahead of time to have an easy family dinner on those busy nights. It’s also pretty easy to make many of your soup recipes dairy-free. just substitute the milk for Silk for So Delicious Dairy Free products.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is the chopping. Once you get everything chopped, the rest is easy. first step, in a large pot on the stovetop, sauté onions, celery and mushrooms with oil until onions are translucent using medium heat.

Add carrots, potatoes, vegetable broth, salt, chicken seasoning and garlic. If you are using uncooked wild rice, add that too. but i choose to use the precooked wild rice found at Target because wild rice is hard to find. don’t use brown or white rice. stir everything together and bring to a boil. once boiling, turn down heat to low and simmer.

Once the carrots and potatoes are tender add the cooked wild rice. Then it’s time to make the roux. tmelt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour. Let the mixture cook for two minutes. whisk in the almondmilk, a little bit at a time, until you have a smooth, thickened sauce. Remember, you can use cashewmilk or coconutmilk instead.

The final step is to mix the roux with the soup in the large pot. stir until combined and soup starts to thicken. remove from heat. enjoy! I love this soup so much…one because i love veggies, and too, because it’s so flavorful and creamy. If you like mushrooms, that’s a plus too…although they aren’t overwhelming in flavor.

Vegan Fall Wild Rice and Vegetable Soup Recipe

For the Soup:
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
5 stalks celery, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
5-6 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes or 8-9 baby dutch potatoes
3 tsp minced garlic cloves 4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups water
2 cups of precooked wild rice (found at Target) or 1 cup of uncooked

For the roux:
6 tablespoons vegan butter (regular butter can be used)
1/2 cup flour
2 cups Silk unsweetened almondmilk (So Delicious Dairy Free Cashewmilk or CoconutMilk can be used too)

Directions: In a large pot on the stovetop, sauté onions, celery and mushrooms with oil until onions are translucent using medium heat. Add carrots, potatoes, vegetable broth, salt, chicken seasoning, garlic, thyme and water. If you are using uncooked wild rice, add that too. stir together and bring to a boil.

Turn down heat to low and simmer. Once the carrots and potatoes are tender add the cooked wild rice.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour. Let the mixture cook for two minutes. Whisk in the almond milk, a little bit at a time, until you have a smooth, thickened sauce. Mix the roux with the soup in the large pot. Stir until combined and soup starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Enjoy!

Makes 8 servings.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.