NERF Party Cake

I am not a professional cake decorator, but I love baking and decorating simple birthday cakes for my boys. They are always thrilled to have fun and unique cakes that match their party themes. Recently, I made a couple of NERF target cakes, and below, I am sharing all the simple DIY details and instructions.
I had a joint party for two of my boys, so I made one batch of vanilla cupcakes and one batch of chocolate cupcakes. Then, I arranged the cupcakes on dollar store pizza trays in the shape of targets (see picture below).

Then, I coloured icing yellow, orange, and blue... and I piped the icing onto the cupcakes.... and added some details with black icing.

I finished by adding a few (clean) NERF bullets.

My boys were sooooo pleased with their cakes, and it was easy for the party guests to grab cupcakes during breaks in their NERF battles.

Do you like to bake cakes for your children's parties? I am really pleased with how cute these cakes turned out to be... and how happy they made my sweet birthday boys!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

For a closer look, check out the video I made here:

2 hour Master Bedroom Refresh (for less than $350)

Sometimes rooms desperately need updating, even though time and money are in short supply. Our master bedroom was in dire need of some TLC, so I decided to take a couple of hours to do a simple refresh that cost less than $350.

Here is what our room looked like BEFORE. The bedding is old and faded, the light fixture is awful, the nightstands are full of clutter, there is only one lamp, and the windows are bare.

Here is what our room looked like AFTER. Isn't it much brighter and more welcoming?

The first thing I did was de-clutter. Then, my husband installed two curtain rods and a new light fixture. I added colourful bedding and pillows, hung light and breezy curtains, and changed the lampshades on some old lamps I had in my basement. Honestly, it took less than two hours for the entire project.

Here is how my budget broke down:

One new light fixture from Canadian Tire - $99.99

Two new lampshades from Walmart (that I added to some old lamps I had in my basement) - $23.96

Two new curtain rods from Amazon (affiliate link) - $33.58

Four new curtain panels from Amazon (affiliate link) - $28.00

New bedding from Wayfair (duvet cover, matching shams, and two pillows) - $142.99

Total: $328.52

I am extremely happy with how my room turned out, and I love how easy and inexpensive this project was. I am planning to paint the room grey, but that will have to wait for another weekend. When I get it done, I'll post a picture so that you can see the complete room.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS... Since I originally posted this, we upgraded to a King-size bed (which I highly recommend!) Because of the new bed, I had to change the bedding, and I bought 4 frames (for $14 each) to use for photos above the bed. What do you think?

Birthday Letter to my Middle son on his 10th Birthday

I had three boys in three and a half years, so the baby books in our house did not get the attention they deserved. To make up for my incomplete baby books, I started writing my boys annual birthday letters. Each year, on their special days, I write my boys letters detailing all the little things about their personalities that I love and cherish. Today, I am sharing the birthday letter I wrote to my middle son on his 10th birthday.

To my sweet, spunky, and "up for anything" son,

I can't believe that you are now in double digits. I miss the toddler with the unruly curls, but I couldn't be more proud of the boy you have grown up to be. You are an adventurous boy with a kind heart, and I feel very grateful that I get to be your mom. Here are a few of the things that make you the special 10 year old boy that you are:
  • You have tons of friends. People love to be around you, and you love to surround yourself with people.
  • You have a sparkle in your eye and a devilish grin.
  • You got an orthodontic appliance this year, and although it was uncomfortable and prevented you from eating some of your favourite treats, you never complained.
  • You love to be outside with your brothers running around. You love "fat bat" baseball (a game you made up), hockey, tag, frisbee, softball, etc... If you are moving, you are happy!
  • Hockey is your favourite sport, and you love road trips with your buddies.
  • You are constantly making playlists on your iPad. You love music, and you love to sing (when you don't think anyone is listening).
  • You are very clever, and you love to figure things out and build things. (You enjoy Sudoku and LEGO.)
  • You are always slow and often make us late when we are going places. You always need "five more minutes" or to complete "one more thing".
  • You love to cuddle. When I went on your class field trip this year, you sat on my lap and held my hand. You really don't care what other people think, and I admire your confidence!
You are strong willed, and sometimes drive me crazy, but you have a kind heart, and I wouldn't change a thing about you. I love you to the moon and back!


Mom xoxo

Simple Dollar Store First Aid Kit

My boys are very active and spend a lot of time outside during the summer -- which means endless summer scrapes and cuts. In order to be prepared, I wanted to create a fully stocked first aid kit for all their summer injuries. I wanted it to be cheap, and I wanted it to be portable, so I hit the dollar store and put together a perfect first aid kit for under $10. I now have everything I need in one place, I can treat my boys' injuries quickly, and I can send them back into the sunshine. 

My kit contained:

  • a plastic container (for holding all the items)
  • 40 band aids (in various sizes)
  • peroxide (for disinfecting cuts)
  • wipes (for wiping off dirt)
  • medical tape
  • steril gauze
  • scissors

I wanted to keep my kit simple and under $10, but you could also add:

  • tweezers (for splinters and ticks)
  • allergy or pain relief medicine (samples work well because they don't take up much space)
  • disposable plastic gloves
  • antibiotic ointment
  • hand sanitizer
  • cream for bug bites
I used white duct tape and red electrical tape to decorate the top of the kit, but this is totally optional. I had some in my cupboard, so I thought I'd use it!

These kits are very inexpensive, so you could make a bunch of them. They are also super-portable, so you can easily take them from the house, to the car, to the camper, or to the sports field. I have already used my kit several times this summer, and I am loving that everything I need is quickly accessible and in one spot. I highly recommend making one of these kits for your kids. You can't beat something that makes your life a little easier. :-)

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Reasons Kids Should Play Sports

Like many moms, my free time and disposable income are totally consumed by my boys' athletic endeavors. Our schedule can sometimes be overwhelming, but I truly believe that sports can be a very important part of childhood. Being involved in sports has been fun for my boys, and it has made them confident and nurtured their competitive spirit. Today, I am sharing 5 reasons why kids should play sports.

Whether they play pick up games with the neighborhood kids or they get involved with competitive sports teams, kids can benefit greatly from getting active and playing sports during their childhood. Based on my experience with my boys (7, 9, and 11), here are 5 reasons that I believe children should play sports:

1) They learn to lose. Playing sports teaches children the joy of winning and the agony of defeat. Life is full of wins and loses and hits and misses, and sports provide a wonderful opportunity to learn to do both with grace at an early age.

2) They learn about discipline, leadership, and work ethic. Sports teach children about working hard, commitment, planning and setting goals. These skills will serve them well in their athletic endeavors, in their schoolwork, and in their adult careers.

3) They make friends, gain confidence and learn about working as a team. Strong bonds form between coaches and teammates, and these friendships can last a lifetime. Also, the self-esteem boost gained from being an athlete helps children to be confident, and this confidence helps them build positive relationships with their peers.

4) They learn to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Playing sports encourages children to eat well and stay active. These habits formed in childhood will likely stay with children as they move into adulthood.

5) They have FUN!

Keeping my boys active is very important to me, and I hope they continue to love their sports and activities! How do you keep your kids active?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Finding Mommy "Me time"... when the children are home for the summer

I love the summer, and I love spending time with my kids. I enjoy making my boys picnic lunches and fun snacks, setting up water parks in our back yard, and going on summer adventures... BUT... as a mom who works from home, finding "me time" in the summer can be a challenge. Here are a few ways I find a little "me time" in July and August.

1) Squeeze out quiet moments whenever you can. Read a book while the kids play sports, or grab a coffee to enjoy while you are waiting for the kids to get their hair cut. Moments of quiet and solitude are rare, so take advantage when you can.

2) Use the time after the kids go to bed. Plan a late supper, or grab a glass of wine in the moonlight. Nighttime can be the perfect time to be alone, de-stress, and recharge your battery.

3) Watch a movie or TV show (alone) while you fold the laundry or make dinner. I often banish my kids to their rooms to read or play while I enjoy 30 minutes of peace to watch a show and fold the laundry/make dinner. I de-stress while being productive. It's a win-win scenario! And if you are looking for a few shows to watch this summer, three of my Netflix* favourites are:
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Friends

How do you sneak in some time to yourself when the kids are home for summer? Do you have a favourite Netflix* show that helps you relax? I'm always looking for new suggestions.

(aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I receive special gifts and perks as part of my affiliation with Netflix.... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own.

BIRTHDAY LETTER to my youngest son on his 8th birthday

Today, my "baby" turns eight. I seriously can't believe how fast time flies. It seems like yesterday I was getting up with him in the middle of the night to feed him and rock him back to sleep. In keeping with family tradition, last night I wrote him a birthday letter as a way of remembering all the little details that make him special. Here is my birthday letter to my youngest son on his 8th birthday.

To my darling, cuddly, sweet "baby" boy:

I am so proud to watch you find your way in the world as you work hard to build your confidence and conquer your anxiety in new social situations. You are a cautious boy, but this past year, you made new friends and tried new things.

On your 8th birthday, I want you to know that I love you more each day, and I feel totally blessed to be your mother. Here are some of things that make you the unique boy that you are:

  • Crackers are your favourite food. In particular, you love multi-grain wheat thins. 
  • You have a sweet smile, and you have adorable freckles on your nose and cheeks.
  • Your nickname is "Bellzie" (like your brothers), and you answer to it proudly.
  • You love to read with me, and I love to read with you too! (We recently read "Charlotte's Web" together, and we both had tears in our eyes when Charlotte died... even though you hid your face and denied it.) :-)
  • You love to play anything with a ball or a puck, but hockey is still your favourite.
  • Riding your bike is one of your favourite things to do. It's really cute to watch you hop on your bike and "call for" your neighbourhood friends.
  • Playing with your brothers is still your favourite thing to do. You are always playing games or going on adventures together.
  • Your favourite colour is green, you love your "big blanket", and your hockey number this year was #5.
  • You are shy around new people, but with your friends and family you are a clown. You are always acting silly, and making us laugh with your funny dance moves.

I love you to the moon and back, and you will always be my "baby".

Lots of Love,


Hosting a simple Backyard Olympics

Hosting a simple "backyard Olympics" is a fun way to spend a warm summer afternoon. It would also be a fun (and simple) theme for a DIY party. My boys set up and competed in their own backyard Olympics, and today I am sharing the games and activities that we used as part of our celebration.

First event (balloon/spoon race) – Run from the starting line to the finish line with a balloon on a spoon. You can’t touch the balloon. If you touch the balloon, or the balloon drops, you must go back to the beginning and get another balloon.

Second event (Nerf gun target shooting) – You must knock two cups of water from their perch (on top of a pylon or cup) with a Nerf gun bullet.

Third event (pass the water) – Break into teams, and each team stands in a line. The first person in line dumps water over their head(without looking back), and the second person in line catches the water and uses it to fill another container. The first team to fill their container wins.

Fourth event (squirt gun/plastic cup race) – You must squirt water into a cup (that has a string passing through it). The water will move the cup, and the first person to get his/her cup to the end of the string wins. (Hint: Use a piece of a straw inside the cup to make the string pass through the cup more easily.)

Fifth event (water balloon toss) – Break into teams, toss the balloon, and follow instructions (like take a step back, catch with one hand, etc…) The team that has their balloon longest (without breaking it) wins.

Sixth event (obstacle course) – Use many of the events above a second time to put together one huge event where every task must be completed. This can be done in teams or individually. You can also add mind games like riddles and puzzles.

We used mini chocolate bars for prizes, but a prize punch would be fun too.

Some other events/activities that would be fun: 

  • Eat donuts from a string and see who can eat their donut first.
  • Try to keep a balloon in the air the longest (without having it touch the ground).
  • Race to see who can move Skittles from one plate to another first (by sucking them up with a straw).
  • Compete in an Olympic themed scavenger hunt.
  • Divide into teams and each team gets a roll of toilet paper. Try to be the first team to use up all the paper wrapping one member of the team.
  • Put three clothespins on each child's clothing. Then, all the kids run around trying to get the most clothespins off other people's clothing (while keeping their own).

You could also add to the festivities with an Olympic themed cake and crafts. (Click on the link for details.)

My boys and I had a fun afternoon holding our backyard Olympics, and I'm sure they'll want to do it again soon!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

NERF Party Loot Bag... with free printable tags

Every party needs an adorable party favour, and I am loving the fun loot bags I put together for my boys' epic NERF themed birthday party. I created two simple party "take aways", and today I am sharing the details of both of our NERF party goodie bags.

The first treat that goes with our "NERF battle" theme is a bunch of water balloons that you hook up to the hose (for simple and quick filling). I attached a little tag that says, "Thanks for coming to our party! Let the battle continue". Cute, right?

I love how colourful these balloons are, and I know the party guests will have fun with them this summer.

To download a copy of the tag I designed: right-click on the photo below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo. There are two tags on each page. You can add the birthday boy/girl's name before printing, or you can add it later using a Sharpie.

The second treat that we are gifting to our guests is a selection of goodies from a prize punch I created. I have been making these prize punches for many years (using dollar store supplies), and they are always popular with our party guests.

To make a prize punch:

1) Fill plastic cups with treats and trinkets.

2) Use hot glue to cover the tops of the glasses with squares of tissue paper.

3) Use hot glue to attach the cups to pieces of foam core from the dollar store.

You can allow the guests to poke through the tissue to claim their prizes, or you can have them use a NERF gun to shoot through the tissue. Both ways are super fun!

Don't you love a party favour that fits with the theme of the party? My boys are pretty excited about these NERF party loot bags.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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Find more NERF party ideas here.

For a closer look, check out the video I made here:

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