Gorgeous WINTER WREATH with Bottle Brush Tree Accents

I love hanging a homemade wreath on my front door. The best part about a DIY wreath is that you can create a unique piece of decor at a great price. Today, I am sharing my latest creation. It's a darling "super soft" DIY pom pom winter wreath (with bottle brush tree accents) that is surprisingly easy to make!

Isn't it gorgeous? And I swear, the picture doesn't do it justice. I totally wish you could touch it too. I made it with "velvet" yarn, and it is sooo soft. My kids touch it every time they walk by it. lol

I started with a styrofoam wreath form, and I wrapped it in yarn (securing it periodically with hot glue). Then I covered it in homemade pom poms.

To make simple pom poms. Wrap yarn around your fingers, slip the yarn off your fingers and tie it in the middle, cut the loops, and trim to shape. It's that easy!

Then, you use the long ends of yarn (that you used to tie the middle of the pom pom) to secure the pom pom to the wreath. Just keep making and adding pom poms until you are happy with the look of the wreath.

I finished the wreath by using some hot glue to add three inexpensive bottle brush trees to the wreath. (I got my bottle brush trees at the dollar store, but you can get them at Walmart, Amazon, or a craft store.) Don't you love it?

This would be a great wreath for the holidays, but the "winter" feel would make it wonderful for after Christmas too. What do you think?

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Dressing up your Doors for the Holidays

Disclosure: I received compensation from Schlage for including their lock in this post; however, I be assured that the opinions expressed in this blog are 100% my own.

What's better than a beautiful front door during the holidays? It's such a great way to greet guests and welcome them to your home this time of year. Today, I am sharing my holiday door... including a tutorial for a lovely, inexpensive DIY wreath and some info on my new front door hardware. And... as a bonus... I'm sharing a fun idea for interior doors too!

A few weeks ago, I received a beautiful new Schlage door handle and Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt. This weekend, my husband installed them (in about 20 minutes), and we both LOVE how fantastic they look!

And, not only is our new handle beautiful, it is also functional. The smart, keyless entry is perfect for my busy family and my three boys (who are now sometimes coming home without a parent). 

No more worrying whether the front door is locked. With a Schlage smart lock, you can enjoy peace of mind and freedom from keys. And, with the Schlage Home App, I can even receive a notification once my boys get home from school. It's so easy!

Here's what our handle looks like on the inside of our door (left) and the outside of our door (right). (We went with the Schlage Encode in Camelot with Satin Nickel finish.)

Our new handle looked so beautiful that it inspired me to craft a simple "Jingle Bell" wreath for my front door. I started with a foam wreath form and wrapped it in red yarn (securing it with hot glue periodically). Then, I hung dollar store bells from pieces of twine and attached them to the wreath with hot glue. I finished with a piece of glittery gold ribbon tied in a bow. I love the simplicity of this wreath and the fun "jingle" sound it makes every time the front door opens.

With my new hardware, my Christmas garland, and my new wreath, my front door is looking fantastic... don't you think?

And don't forget about interior doors too. With a little bit of construction paper, painter's tape, cotton, and a red ball ornament, I created this adorable holiday vignette.

This Christmas, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a welcoming entrance to your home. Consider updating your hardware with a beautiful and functional handle from Schlage, and get a little creative with your DIY decor. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm so happy I decided to dress up my doors for the holidays, and I hope I inspired you to do it too!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

Top 10 Gift Ideas for HOCKEY Fans and HOCKEY players (2019 Hockey Gift Guide)

***Disclosure -This gift guide contains some products I own, some items that I received for free and a few affiliate links. Please be assured that the opinions in this blog are 100% my own, and I've only included items I think would make fantastic gifts for hockey fans and players. Also, if you make a purchase using one of my affiliate links, you will not pay any extra, but I may get a small commission on your purchase. Thank you!***

If you regularly read my blog, you know that I am a hockey mom to three hockey-loving boys. Every year, there are several hockey-related items on my Christmas shopping list, so today, I am sharing my top 10 gift ideas for hockey fans and hockey players. There really is something on this list for all ages and budgets.

Here are my top 10 gifts for hockey players (and fans)... in no particular order:

1) Summer Skates - My boys are huge fans of summer skates. They are comfortable, customizable, and stylish. The front of the sandals look like hockey skate laces, and you can add your favourite team or player name/number. This year, each of my boys received summer skates featuring their favourite Toronto Maple Leafs player, and my husband and I opted for plain versions. They are great for summer, but we love them for hotel rooms too! You can order your own favourite style here.

Check out how excited my boys were when their summer skates arrived. 😄

2) Pacific Rink Bags - My oldest son has the Pacific Rink Player Bag, and it is the best hockey bag we've ever owned. Pacific Rink built the Player Bag / ULTIMATE Hockey Bag to fill a void in the hockey market. It's made with strong, high-quality materials, tough durability, high functionality and classic style that helps keep all of your hockey gear organized. There are too many special features to include here, but I highly recommend popping over to the Pacific Rink website to check it out.

Another great product from Pacific Rink is the Pond Pack. We don't have it yet, but it is on my oldest son's Christmas list this year. It's the perfect alternative to a full-size duffel when you don’t need all of your gear. It's a wonderful gift for coaches, refs, and outdoor players!

3) Ollie Bots - These cute little wooden robots are made with love and tied together with hockey skate laces. The Ollie Bots project was started by my son's buddy and teammate (Oliver Smith) who sadly passed away at the age of 12 to a rare form of bone cancer. For a $20 donation, you can help raise funds and awareness for Ewing Sarcoma. Find out more here

4) NHL20 - If your hockey fan loves video games, you probably already have the latest version of this game on your Christmas shopping list. My boys LOVE playing this on their PS4, and you can order it here.

5) Hockey books - Books always make fantastic gifts, and hockey books are perfect for hockey fans. This year, I have The Three Stars on my shopping list.

6) EZ ice - If you are looking for a family gift, and don't mind stretching the budget, this 60 minute hockey rink looks awesome! And you can save 10% using the discount code "MOMMY".

7) Warm socks - Warm socks make great gifts and wonderful stocking stuffers for hockey moms and hockey dads. These ones are inexpensive and cute!

8) Microfibre Sports Towel - Great for sticking in a hockey bag for an after-game shower. I ordered the large one for my my oldest son for Christmas this year. Click here for the link to the one I purchased.

9) Hockey-themed labels and wall decals from Oliver's Labels - Personalized labels and wall decals make wonderful gifts for kids. I've recovered a lot of my boys clothes and sports equipment because of name labels. And, and how cute is this large jersey wall decal? Use my link, and save 10% with code: EastCoastMommy.

10) Gongshow Gear - Gongshow gear is always a favourite with my boys, and if you have a Gongshow fan in your life, now is the perfect time to buy because they are having a BLACK FRIDAY WEEK SALE starting Nov 25th (until Cyber Monday Dec 2nd).

The On a Roady Again bag makes a stylish AND useful gift for hockey players of all ages. It's roomy enough to store toiletries AND hockey essentials like tape, scissors, helmet screws, etc... 

Also, the Gongshow Clean Up Kit is only $20, and it would make a great gift for a Hockey Dad or your favourite player who likes to shower at the rink.

Gongshow Gear has fantastic stocking stuffer ideas for everyone on your list too. I love the Christmas socks, hats, and shirts. They are all stylish, high quality, and perfect for hockey fans!

If you have a hockey player or hockey fan on your list, take it from me, you'll score big with these top 10 gift ideas. As a hockey mom, I have a feeling several of these items will be under my tree on Christmas morning! 😉

Happy Shopping!!!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

A Birthday Letter to my Oldest Son on his 14th birthday

Every year on my boys' birthdays, I write them "Birthday Letters". The purpose of the letters is to create verbal "snapshots" of their personalities at every age. I hope some day my boys will look back at their letters, get a glimpse of how special they were (and are), and know how much I loved them at every stage of their childhood. Today, I am sharing the letter I wrote for my oldest son on his 14th birthday.

Dear Cameron,

As you turn 14, I am overwhelmed by the feeling that the time I have with you living in my home is running short. The years are going by too quickly, and I am trying my best to appreciate every minute with you. I am so proud of the young man you have become, and I feel blessed to be your mother. Here are some of the reasons you are my favourite 14 year old in the whole world:

  • You are a great big brother. You set a wonderful example for your brothers, and I love how much fun you have together.
  • You are always up for an adventure. This year we went on a family cruise, and you loved it!
  • You are hardworking and clever, and you put 110% into everything you do. You train hard for hockey, and you are organized and focused when it comes to your education.
  • You inspire me with how you react to adversity. After missing your hockey season last year with a broken collar bone, you broke your elbow. Although it was devastating, you handled it well, and dedicated yourself to recovery.
  • Your favourite sport is hockey, and you are a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan. You had the chance to attend a game last week, and you LOVED it!
  • You love your brothers and your family, and you have a lot of fantastic friends.
  • You love peanut butter sandwiches, turkey dinner, steak, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies (hot out of the oven).
  • You are kind, thoughtful and helpful. You sold cookie jars this summer and gave $1 from each jar to Cystic Fibrosis. You also raised money for charity by selling some of your belongings and running a "letter writing to Santa" fundraiser.

You are a wonderful human, and I love you all the way to the moon. Even though I know you are growing up (and I get fewer hugs than I used to), you'll always be my "first baby".


DIY Christmas Monogram

I love having something unique and handmade on my front door at Christmas, don't you? Wreaths are wonderful, but a fun and festive DIY creation is a fantastic way to great guests during the holidays. Today, I am sharing my simple Christmas monogram. It is easy and inexpensive to make, and totally cute!

I made my Christmas monogram with red glittery wire ribbon, thick red yarn, and a handmade felt flower with a bell in the middle.

In the past, I have made monograms with twine, but I love the warmth of the thick red yarn for the holidays. You can find the full tutorial for making a monogram here. (Just substitute thick red yarn for twine.)

I'm so pleased with how cute this Christmas monogram turned out. It's a fun contrast to the greenery around my door.

Happy Christmas crafting!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Non-toy Gifts That Kids Will Love

As the holidays approach, let's get real... our kids do not need more "stuff". When my kids need something, I buy it for them, so showering them with toys and gifts on their birthdays and at Christmas makes no sense to me. Today, I am sharing some great "non toy" gifts that kids will love!

1) Money - Since my kids have been little, they have been having "toonie" parties. Instead of gifts, we ask guests to give the birthday boy a two dollar coin. The guests spend less on a gift, we don't end up with more toys, and the birthday boy can use his birthday money to purchase something he really wants. 

Money in an education fund or foreign currency for an upcoming trip are great ideas too!

2) Amusement park tickets - My kids love our local amusement park where they can drive go carts, play mini golf, and grab an ice cream. A gift certificate to pay for an afternoon of fun is a wonderful gift idea!

3) Tickets to a live event - Tickets to concerts, sporting events, and live theatre make wonderful gifts... and wonderful memories. Take a look at upcoming events in your area, purchase tickets, and wrap them up. Event tickets make fantastic gifts!

4) An ice cream date - An ice cream date involves a sweet treat and time spent together. I love the idea of giving kids gift cards to their favourite ice cream restaurant or stand with a promise to take them out on a special date. It's inexpensive and fun!

5) A movie date - Who doesn't love a great movie with someone special? Movie gift cards attached to a box of popcorn make a simple and fantastic gift.

I love all these non-toy gift ideas, don't you? What's your favourite? This holiday season, consider gifting experiences. Kids (and parents) love it!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Halloween 2019

Halloween 2019 was bitter sweet for me, as this is the first year my oldest didn't go trick or treating. However, my younger two are still "all in" when it comes to dressing up and collecting candy. 😁

My youngest decided to go as a Minion, so I turned a candy bowl, a laundry basket, and a pop up hamper into the costume of his dreams.

My middle son couldn't decide what he wanted to be, so while he was at school today, I pulled this secret agent costume together using stuff we had lying around the house. He was pretty happy with it, and I think he looked pretty cute. 

We also managed to get a couple of pumpkins carved in between hockey practices. (Life of a hockey mom!)

The boys traveled the neighborhood with their friends and came home with too much candy! lol

They are currently sitting on the floor of my kitchen trading candy with their friends. Candy trading is pretty serious business in our house.

Happy Halloween from my family to yours!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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