Tips for Celebrating Canada Day

This year, we are spending our Canada Day camping with family. My boys are super excited, and I am looking forward to celebrating with them. How are you planning to commemorate July 1st? Today I am sharing a few tips that are guaranteed to make your Canada Day celebration a success.

Start with a trip to the dollar store to pick up simple decorations, plastic cups, and sparklers. If you poke a hole in a plastic cup, you can protect little fingers from the heat of the sparkler.

You'll also want to stock up Canada Day t-shirts. Anything red and white will do!

Finally... supplies for a Canada Day BBQ are a must!

Of course, I am hoping for a sunny day, but in case it rains or we need a little time to wind down and relax, I'll pack everything we need for a movie a night.

In keeping with the Canada Day theme, we'll likely be streaming some Canadian Netflix content. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

For the family (filmed in Vancouver) - Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This is a favorite with my boys, and my husband and I think it is funny too.

For the kids (produced by a Canadian studio) - Super Why. My boys loved this when they were little, and it's educational too.

For the grown ups in the mood for romance (starring a wonderful Canadian actress) - About Time. Who doesn't love a romantic comedy?

For the grownups in the mood to laugh (starring some terrific Canadian comedians) - Arrested Development. It's always good for a laugh.

However you decide to celebrate, I hope you have a fantastic Canada Day filled with BBQs, community events, fireworks, family, and Canadian pride!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: I receive compensation as part of my affiliation with Netflix.... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are my own.

Last Day of School 2016

Today was the last day of school for my three boys. They were dismissed at 10am, and then we went out and had some fun. Here is a peek at our day and our last day of school traditions.

First, I pick them my boys up at school, and I make them pose for a last day of school photo. I admit that this is not their favorite thing to do, but they humour me. :-)

Then, we head out for ice cream

We have been getting ice cream on the last day of school (at the same place) since my oldest started school. Check out this adorable collage of my boys through the years.

Then, we head home where my boys find their last day of school finish line. I open the front door, and they all run through together. Fun, right?

We end the day with some new books. (We don't do traditional "grading presents", but they always get books to read over the summer.)

I love the last day of school, don't you? Time for the lazy days of summer to begin!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Camping Crafts and Activities

Summer is a wonderful time to get out and explore nature, but sometimes a major outdoor camping trip isn't possible. So today, I am sharing some "indoor" camping crafts and activities that are simple and fun... and you won't even need to put up a tent. 

To make a paper tent:

1) Cut a tent from a piece of colored paper, cut out doors, and glue the tent to a piece of white card stock.
2) Glue a picture of a child inside the tent.
3) Draw a tree, and create leaves by gluing on crumpled 1-inch tissue paper squares.
4) Embellish with crayons and a yellow, circle sun.

To make paper towel roll binoculars:

1) Cut a paper towel roll to create two equal parts.
2) Use duct tape to attach the two pieces together.
3) Embellish with crayons and stickers.

To make a handprint fire:

1) Trace a child's hands to create the flames.
2) Glue strips to create "logs".
3) Add a paper stick and a cotton ball "marshmallow".

To make an indoor camp fire:

1) Put a flashlight in a bowl.
2) Crumple tissue paper to create flames.

Indoor camping is always a lot of fun, and it is a wonderful way to spend a rainy day. Happy camping!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 things that will make you SMILE this Summer

Summer is my favorite time of year. I love the warmer weather and the slower pace that comes with the season. There is definitely something about getting a break from our chaotic winter routine that makes me happy. Today, I am sharing 5 things (I love) that I am betting will fill your summer with joy and lots of smiles.

1) Happy kids - If my kids are happy, I'm happy... but keeping my boys happy and entertained all summer can be a challenge. My best tool for avoiding summer boredom is our summer checklist. It keeps my family focussed, and there is always a new adventure around the corner. You can check out our summer checklist (and print out your own copy for FREE here).

2) Family movie night (outside) - When I was a little girl, our family always went to a drive-in movie during our summer vacation. Times have changed, and I have modified the tradition slightly. My boys and I LOVE watching movies outside, but we do it in our own backyard. We grab some pillows and blankets, and we set up a projector for an "outdoor" movie night. It's one of my favorite summer activities, and you can read all about it here.

3) Grown up time - Summer is a perfect time for simple get-togethers. Nothing brings a smile to my face more than a fireside chat with my husband and/or friends. PS - Balloons filled with water can be frozen for colorful and inexpensive ice packs. Fill a bucket with chilled wine, beer, soda, and balloons, and you won't have to leave your camping chair.

4) A good campfire - Nothing says summer like a campfire and treats. Marshmallows and s'mores are a must, but you can check out more fun ideas for outdoor grilled goodies here.

5) Healthy and white teeth - As a wine and coffee drinking mom, I worry about stains on my teeth. However, this summer I will be smiling without any reservations because I have a secret weapon. I was recently given a new toothpaste to try, and I LOVE it! If you get the chance, and you are looking for a healthy and white summer smile, I recommend giving Crest Pro-Health HD a try.

Crest Pro-Health HD is the biggest breakthrough in toothpaste since fluoride because the two-step process isolates key ingredients so that they can perform at their peak. It strips away plaque and helps to reverse gingivitis. 

I started using this toothpaste less than two weeks ago, and I can feel the difference. I love that this toothpaste gives me both deep cleaning and advanced whitening. 

To use this product: you brush for 1 minute with Step 1, then you spit but DO NOT RINSE your mouth, and then you brush for 1 minute with Step 2, and then rinse. 

What makes you smile about summer? Did it make my list?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Note: This product is NOT for children and should not be used by children.

Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Crest/ P&G and I received Compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

End of Year Class Treats {with "OWL miss you" free printables}

I teach a weekly Preschool Class, and given that it is time for our summer break, I wanted to give my young students a little treat bag. As part of the gift, I designed a cute bookmark and an adorable tag. Today, I am sharing both of these end-of-year printables for FREE.

These book marks and tags would be cute from a teacher, or for a little one to share with their classmates. Aren't they sweet???

To download the bookmarks I designed (for free): right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10. (I printed mine onto card stock at my local copy store for $0.49.)

To download the gift tags I designed (for free): right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10. (I printed mine at my local copy store for $0.39.)

I added a box of crayons and a few trinkets to my goodie bags, and my little Preschoolers were thrilled!

Are you a teacher that would like to give something to your students on the last day of school? Or are you a parent looking for a cute treat for your child to share with their classmates on the last day of school? Either way, these free printables are sure to please!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Summer Checklist 2016

One of my favorite family traditions involves our annual summer checklist. The boys and I work together each year to come up with a list of 50 simple summer activities, I create a checklist, and we spend the next couple of months working our way through the list. It keeps us focussed and entertained, and it is a lot of fun! Today, I am sharing this year's summer checklist (which you can print off for FREE), and some helpful links to more information about the items on the list. Fun, right?

To print off a copy of our summer checklist: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo. (I sent mine to my local copy store and had it printed for $0.39.)

And... in case you need more info about the items on list, I have included some helpful info below.

1) Celebrate Canada Day or the 4th of July
2) Watch fireworks or attend a parade
3) Have a teddy bear picnic
4) Go to a splash pad or swim in a pool
5) Host a "half sleepover"
6) Go to a farmer's market
7) Visit the library and read a book outside
8) Have a water fight
9) Go fishing or hiking
10) Have a family movie night outside
11) Eat donuts from a string (with no hands)

12) Pick out a toy or treat at the dollar store
13) Plant something and watch it grow
14) Visit a wildlife park, farm or zoo
15) Build a fort
16) Get ice cream in PJs (drive throughs are OK) 
17) Play baseball, soccer, golf or street hockey
18) Make ice cream or go to an ice cream stand
19) Go for a bike ride
20) Decorate a cake or bake cookies
21) Spend time at a cottage, beach or park
22) Do a science experiment

23) Play a board game
24) Go geo-caching
25) Have a "kids pick the meals" day
26) Play mini golf
27) See a play or visit a museum
28) Have a lemonade stand
29) Try a new food
30) Have a theme day (e.g. a pirate day or superhero day)

31) Camp in the backyard or living room
32) Have a PJ day
33) Build a large puzzle
34) Make a summer reading list or keep a summer journal
35) Fly a kite
36) Have a dance party in the living room
37) Go on a scavenger hunt
38) Build an obstacle course
39) Play with water balloons
40) Do a good deed or raise money for charity
41) Visit a new city or town
42) Play "tag"
43) Roast marshmallows or make a different campfire treat

44) Write and mail a letter or postcard
45) Run in a race
46) Make a craft
47) __________________________
48) __________________________
49) __________________________

And... in case you just want to create your own list, I have included the template I designed below. To use my template: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.

My boys are excited by all the things on our list, but they are particularly excited about "kid's pick the meals day". I can't wait to see what they select this year! What's on your summer checklist?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Custom Coffee Mug

I love the idea of creating customized coffee mugs because they make a useful, clever, and personalized gift. They would be perfect for friends, teachers, moms, and dads... especially with a coffee gift card tucked inside. Today, I am letting you know how easy it is to create your own simple, custom coffee mug.

To make a simple custom mug like mine, you can use to add a custom message. I selected: "Design" and "Square", and then I added text. I saved the image to my computer, and then I created a custom photo mug at an online store. There are many online stores that sell photo gifts, but I created this one at

If you want to use my text, you can right click on the image below and save it to your computer.

And if you are a Harry Potter fan, this Harry Potter graphic I designed would be cute on a mug too. Just right click on the image below and save it to your computer.

Cute, right?

Or, make a fun mug for a teacher that loves coffee. Just right-click on the image below, and save it to your computer.

The chalkboard background looks adorable on a white mug.

Or try this cheeky option for a girlfriend.

Just right click on the picture below, and save it to your computer.

Or if you want a gift for dad, you could make him a mug with this simple sentiment.

Just right click on the picture below, and save it to your computer.

The possibilities for making custom coffee mugs are endless! I think it would be lovely to make a mug using a picture of a child's artwork, a special message from a child, or a favorite photo. What would you put on your custom coffee mug creation?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Paper Viking Helmet

My boys were so excited to hear about the new (third) season of "Dragons: Race to the Edge" on Netflix, that we decided to make a simple craft to celebrate. I love watching my boys dress up and "pretend", so I am always willing to craft a new item for their costume box. Today, I am sharing the simple instructions for this paper Viking helmet.

To make your own Viking hat, follow the steps and graphic below.

Step 1: Cut two strips of card stock and cover both strips with tin foil. Secure with tape. One strip should be long enough to wrap around the child's head, and the other strip (which will be the top of the helmet) should be shorter.

Step 2: Fit the long strip around the child's head, and tape in place.

Step 3: Use tape to attach the shorter strip to the helmet.

Step 4: Draw horns on a piece of white card stock, and tape to the sides of the helmet.

If your kids are fans of the "Dragons: Race to the Edge" series, you are going to want to check out the announcement that inspired our little craft.

I love this little DIY Viking helmet, don't you? If you make one, let me know. I always love hearing from people that have made crafts from my tutorials.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple End of Year Teacher Gifts

Have you ever needed a quick, easy, and inexpensive gift for a teacher? Sometimes, kids have several teachers, so buying expensive gifts can really add up. Today, I am sharing a simple end-of-year teacher gift that won't break the bank... and I am including free printable gift tags.

I found these fantastic reusable summer party cups at Walmart for $1.50, and I filled them with KitKat bars that say, "have a BREAK" on the sides. I also added some packets of lemonade mix. Then, I wraped the cups in cellophane bags and added a tag that says, "Enjoy your summer BREAK!" Did you catch the play on words?

To download the tags I designed (for free): right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo. I sent my tags to the local copy store for printing where I printed the sheet on cardstock for less than fifty cents.

These little gifts are perfect for music teachers, gym teachers, bus drivers, librarians, and special classroom helpers. You could even add a gift certificate for a more extravagant gift. Have you started to think about end of year teacher gifts yet? The last day of school will be here before you know it!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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