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Thank you for visiting Great Homes of Orange County.  We created this simple blog for our friends and neighbors to share the people, places, art, culture, news, and lifestyle that makes Orange County a great place to live, work, and play.

Lately, we’ve been tweeting on Twitter on the local news, entertainment, interesting architecture, and fun things to do around town.  Check us out at https://twitter.com/ocland

Sesame Street for Military Families

Girl at Christmas Time

We are so excited to share that the Sesame Workshop and the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealh & Technology announced this week the launch of a website for military and Veteran Families.

We encourage military and Veteran families with children to visit and share, The Sesame Street for Military Families website http://www.sesamestreetformilitaryfamilies.org.

The website and mobile app features the beloved Sesame Street Muppet™ characters to help preschool military and Veteran children cope with issues, which may include the deployment of a parent, moving to a new home, and the injury or even death of a parent.

Additional content on Sesame Street for Military Families website includes the highly successful “Talk, Listen, Connect” multimedia resources and the “Feel Electric!” and “The Big Moving Adventure” mobile applications.

If you or someone you know has children and/or works with children of military and Veteran families, take a look at these resources designed to support their unique challenges.

#Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Women Celebrating BirthdayWe know so much more about Alzheimer’s disease today than we did 30 years ago.  The National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer’s Association has provided more insight about the Disease through research.

Did you know?

  • As many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • About a half million Americans younger than age 65 have some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. This is referred to as young onset or early onset.
  • Studies show that Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is physically, emotionally and financially challenging.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the continued impact on Caregivers will continue to grow as our population ages.  Research shows Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • are about two-thirds of Caregivers are women,
  • 34% are age 65 or older,
  • 41% have a household income of $50,000 or less,
  • Half of primary caregivers of people with dementia take care of parents.

Many of these Caregivers suffer from untreated physical and mental illness due to the stress from caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. If you know of a Caregiver of a Veteran with Alzheimer’s or dementia, please let them know the VA Caregiver Support Program is here to support.  The VA REACH program offers amazing support to our caregiver and Veterans, please visit www.caregiver.va.gov to learn more from your local Caregiver Support Coordinator.

Thanksgiving Clean Up in Half the Time

How to Clean Up After Thanksgiving in Half the Time

By Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Dog with Santa Hat Popping out of Present

The Pilgrims were on to something when they planned a Thanksgiving potluck; here are other good ideas that’ll simplify your T-Day kitchen cleanup.

Want something to be thankful for? Check out these tips that’ll make your Thanksgiving kitchen cleanup faster and easier — and will give you more time to enjoy family and friends.

Plan a potluck: The first Thanksgiving was a potluck; so let your guests share the fun and bring dishes to share. Then make sure they take home their serving bowls and platters, which will cut down on dishes to wash and put away.

Decide on disposable: Leave Mom’s good dishes in the breakfront and set your table with disposable — and recyclable — place settings. Party stores sell plastic dishware that look like real china (12 dinner plates for about $13). After eating, collect and toss. If you can’t stand to set a table with anything but your best, use disposables for hors d’oeuvres and dessert.

Triple-duty cookware: Cut down on cleanup by selecting cookware that can go from oven to table to freezer. Or, serve food in edible containers, such as bread bowls or hollowed-out winter squash, which you can either consume or compost.

Empty fridge: Start your holiday with a clean slate, which will make the inevitable mess less daunting than piling clutter onto clutter. Before beginning Thanksgiving prep, pick up depressing home clutter and clean out your fridge to make room for ingredients and leftovers.

If possible, designate a shelf for Thanksgiving food, which should be empty when you start your meal, then filled with leftovers when you’re finished. In a week, clean out that shelf again. Make soup from leftover meat and veggies, and then freeze. Compost wilted greens. Toss old dairy products.

Prepare roasting pans: You won’t have to clean what you don’t get dirty. So line your turkey roasting pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, or cook the bird in a bag. Pour drippings into a pot to make gravy, then throw away the liner.

Line garbage cans: Double- or triple-line garbage cans, which saves time when the cleaning campaign begins. After you toss a trash bag, there’s another waiting for action.

Soaking bin: Soak pots and pans as soon as you transfer food to platters. But instead of filling the sink with soaking pots, designate a small trashcan as the soaking spot. Fill it will soapy water and dirty pots, and hide it under a sink or in a mudroom. That way, your sink is free throughout the evening to clean as you go and rinse dishes on the way to the dishwasher.

Stop stains: Don’t let stains on carpet or rings on furniture set. While wine stains are still wet, dab with go-to cleaner hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of dish detergent; blot with a clean cloth. Get rid of water stains on wood furniture with a dab of white toothpaste (not gel). Rub in the direction of the grain.

Pump up the music: Up-tempo music will give you a second wind for cleaning. So turn off the soothing dinner tunes and get rocking with our cleaning playlist.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/easy-thanksgiving/preview/#ixzz3rtgDKIpx
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

Holiday Hosting Disasters

5 Holiday Hosting Disasters and How to Avoid Them

Take a look at the most common things that can go wrong when you have guests and learn how to prevent them.

Girl at Christmas Time

Girl at Christmas Time — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Imagine you’re preparing to host your annual holiday party, and you’re past the point of no return. The veggies and meats have been bought. Guests are already braving busy airports and crowded highways to get to your home — and then your oven won’t turn on. Your home-cooked meal has quickly turned into a microwave dinner.

That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.

Problem: The Oven Doesn’t Heat

For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.

How to avoid:

  • There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.

Problem: The Kitchen Sink Clogs

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.

How to avoid:

  • Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
  • To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.

Problem: The Heat Goes Out

As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats — not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.

How to avoid:

  • The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
  • Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they’re missing or damaged.

Problem: The Toilet Stops Up

Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.

How to avoid:

  • Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.

Problem: The Fridge Doesn’t Cool

Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.

How to avoid:

  • Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
  • Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/holiday-hosting-tips/preview/#ixzz3rtfOtJDy
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

Tips on How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

MP900309568Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.

I’m lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.

Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.


The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.

If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.


Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.

Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.

Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.

Entryway Upgrades

Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.

  • Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
  • Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow.
  • Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
  • Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
  • Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.

Kitchen Prep

Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.

  • To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
  • Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
  • If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.

Sleeping Arrangements

If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house.

To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.

Bathroom Storage

Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.

If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.

Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).

What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?

18 Exceptional Orange County Homes Available Now.

 Check out these Orange County Homes currently on the market. Click on the photo for more details.
San Juan Capistrano | $4,295,000

Listed by: Liz Hansche

Corona del Mar | $3,995,000

Listed by: Renee West

Newport Beach | $3,135,000

Listed by: James Gray

Laguna Niguel | $2,868,000

Listed by: Lyn Chadwick

Laguna Beach | $2,700,000

Listed by: Chas Aufhammer

Newport Beach | $1,995,000

Listed by: Renee West

San Clemente | $1,995,000

Listed by: Byron Savon

Ladera Ranch | $1,599,000

Listed by: Moureen and Amy Hardy

Ritz Point | $1,500,000

Listed by: Jim Shockey

San Clemente | $1,399,000

Listed by: Diane Bennett

Dana Point | $1,369,000

Listed by: Chris Koerner

San Clemente | $1,290,000

Listed by: Debbie Brewington

Coto de Caza | $1,279,000

Listed by: Mariann Cordova

Laguna Hills  | $1,050,000-$1,150,000

Listed by: Jim Bishop

San Clemente | $925,000

Listed by: Debbie Brewington

Newport Coast | $890,000

Listed by: Michael Hinderberger and Rick Harmon

Mission Viejo | $829,000

Listed by: Matt Babayan

Lake Forest | $728,000

Listed by: Kevin Hill

 Homes courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway and its respective agents.

Thanksgiving Dinner ideas: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

It’s countdown to turkey time, and the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa chefs are planning some extra-special dining for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26.  We love the Grand California Hotel – it reminds me of our many visits to the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.

For the kids, try Storytellers Café. It’s dinner buffet features salads and fresh fruit, roasted corn chowder, hand-carved turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, hand-carved beef, pan-seared salmon, pork loin, candied yams, sourdough bread stuffing, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, green beans. Also holiday desserts include pumpkin and pecan pies, bread pudding with vanilla sauce, chocolate pate, dulce de leche pot de crème.

DIS157219 D680A

Photo Courtesy Disney Grand California Hotel

For something on the romantic side, we love the Napa Rose.  Celebrate family, friends and good fortune over a Thanksgiving dinner that’s unparalleled — Chef Andrew Sutton’s indulgent Four-Course Wine Country Feast (wine flight also available). This cornucopia of California cuisine takes your taste buds on an unforgettable epicurean adventure featuring dishes replete with the Golden State’s finest flavors.

Select from the following Thanksgiving Day seating times:

  • First Seating – 4:00 PM, 4:30 PM, 5:00 PM and 5:30 PM
  • Second Seating – 6:00 PM, 6:30 PM, 7:00 PM and 7:30 PM

This holiday dining experience is available for $100 per adult; paired with a special flight of wines for $45 per person. Kids ages 3 to 12 can choose from the turkey dinner or children’s menu, available for $25 per child.  Dinner Guests will receive 5 hours of complimentary parking at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

For reservations, please call (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463 between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM Pacific Time daily.


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