Packing Essentials for Holiday Travel

This time of year, many people are travelling, and parents know that travelling with kids comes with many challenges. It is of utmost importance to keep the kids comfortable, well fed, and entertained! Our family has gone on many trips (hockey trips, plane trips, camping trips, and road trips), and today, I am sharing my list of packing essentials... just in time for holiday travel.

Pack a good carry on bag - You'll want to include healthy snacks, little treats, small toys/games, movies, special blankets/stuffies, water bottles, iPods/iPads, etc... If you are flying, you will want to pack a pen for customs forms/baggage tags and some gum/suckers for the kids (to help with their ears when the plane is landing). A change of clothes and bathing suits are helpful too... in case luggage gets lost or delayed.

Pack food - I detest being forced to buy overpriced and junky food when on a road trip, spending time in an airport, or staying in a hotel room. I always bring supplies (that don't need to be refrigerated) that I can use to prepare a simple picnic lunch. I like unsweetened applesauce, bananas, bread, and peanut butter. It's not fancy... but it's economical, tasty, and keeps my boys happy and full. Individual snack packs (using dollar store hardware holders) are fun and useful too.

Pack basic medical supplies - I always pack Gravol, Benadryl, Tylenol, bandaids, a thermometer, ear drops, etc... There is nothing worse than being in a strange city (with a sick child) searching for an all night pharmacy. A plastic bin from the dollar store makes a wonderful, portable, and full stocked first aid kit too!

Pack storage bags - I use bags to: keep organized, identify special outfits, isolate dirty items, and hold wet stuff.

Pack entertainment for everyone - Netflix* now offers downloads, so you don't always need wifi to keep the kids entertained when you are travelling. When you are on-the-go, you can now keep everyone entertained... one download at a time.

Did I miss anything on my list? What is #1 on YOUR holiday packing list?

(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... and I REALLY do love Netflix!

Simple Holiday Brunch Ideas

Recently, I was given the opportunity to sample some fantastic products from the NEW PC Holiday Insiders Collection*. I tried a lot of delicious things, and a few of the items inspired me to put together a fantastic brunch menu. I love brunch, don't you? The key to a hosting a successful brunch is to use quality ingredients and keep things simple. Today, I am sharing my easy brunch menu, and telling you everything you need to know to make it in your own home.

My brunch menu included:

  • PC Brioche French Toast (with powered sugar and real maple syrup)
  • PC Honey & Sea Salt Flavoured Naturally Smoked Bacon
  • PC Pomegranate Lemon Sparkling Beverage (garnished with PC Pomegranate Arils and Fresh Orange Slices)
  • Fruit

To make PC Brioche French Toast: For each two pieces of bread, I beat together 1 egg, 1 tbsp milk, and a 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Then, I dipped the PC Brioche slices into the egg mixture, and cooked them in a lightly buttered pan until they were brown on both sides. I served them with a light dusting of powered sugar and real maple syrup.

The PC brioche bread is made with real whole eggs and whipped butter, and it makes the most delicious french toast I have ever had.

For the bacon, I used PC Honey & Sea Salt Flavoured Naturally Smoked Bacon. I didn't think it was possible to make bacon more delicious, but this product does not disappoint. It's the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and it pairs perfectly with french toast.

To make a festive PC Pomegranate Lemon Sparkling Beverage: I started with PC Pomegranate Lemon Sparkling Beverage. Then, I garnished it with PC Pomegranate Arils (that you can find in the freezer section) and orange slices.

If you want to get a little fancier, you can mix up some other PC beverages and serve a crowd with alcoholic or non-alcholic sparkling pomegranate citrus brunch punch.

As you can see, this is a simple menu, but when all the items come together, it's impressive. It's easy enough to make for your family, but fancy enough to serve to guests.

Note: While you are shopping for your brunch ingredients, you should check out the PC "Home Collection for the Holidays". The dishes and napkins I used came from this collection.

Want to learn more about the NEW PC Insiders Collection... AND have a chance to win fantastic prizes? All you have to do is RSVP to the #PCInsidersCollection Holiday Twitter Party (below), and meet me there on November 28!

I hope to see you at the party... and in the meantime, check out for more new products and recipe inspiration.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with President's Choice and have received compensation for this post. However, I really did love all these products, and all opinions in the post are my own.

5 Ways to Incorporate Clean Living into Family Life During the Holidays

Teaching children to take care of the planet is always important... and the holidays are no exception. And, given that Christmas can be a time of abundance and waste, it is a perfect time to revisit the principles of giving and clean living with kids. Today, I am sharing 5 ideas for incorporating clean education principles into family life (even during the holidays), and I am sharing some information about a fun "Giving Tuesday" event. 

1) Teach and Empower - If you empower kids to make a difference in the world, they will rise to the occasion... especially if you make it fun. The Clean Foundation* is teaching kids via their famous super hero cat puppet "Eddie".

And this year, the Clean Foundation is inviting kids to join the #TeamEddie challenge. Eddie and his friends will be on Facebook Live on Giving Tuesday (November 28) waiting to say thank you to every kid who donates their recycling money that day to Clean's EnviroEd program to help kids become environmental super heroes... just like Eddie. Don't forget to check out the Clean Foundation's Facebook page at 1pm and 6pm (Atlantic time) on November 28th!

2) Reduce Waste - Kids need to be taught the value of reducing waste in their daily lives and in their homes. In our house, we always use reusable containers in lunches, and my boys take refillable water bottles to school and all their athletic practices and games. I hope that my boys are forming habits that they will carry into their adult lives.

3) Recycle - Most kids are good to recycle, as it has become the norm in most homes and schools. However, it is important to continue to encourage kids to be diligent with regard to their recycling efforts. You might also want to consider donating your recycling rebates to an environmental education program. A donation of $250 is enough to send Eddie (the super hero cat puppet) to a classroom, and it comes with a super adorable plush Eddie! (You can find more details about EnviroEd programs here.)

4) Reuse - Utilizing the second hand market is an important way to take care of the planet, and this time of year is a perfect time to de-clutter. Children should learn to buy/sell/donate used clothes and toys that still have a lot of life left in them. I encourage my boys to sell unwanted/ unused items, save the proceeds, and use the money to buy other things they need.

5) Reduce Consumption - We live in a time where consumerism and waste are rampant, so I really try to limit the amount of "stuff" that comes into our home. One trick I have used is "hosting toonie parties".... that is, when my boys had birthday parties, each guest brought a two dollar coin instead of a gift. Then, rather than having a mountain of toys, my boys had some money to buy one thing they really wanted. 

Also, during the holidays, my boys write a letter to Santa and ask for ONLY three things... in the hopes that they will get one of them. Often, they will get one from Santa, one from my husband and I, and one from another family member. Gifting "experiences" instead of "stuff" is another way to minimize waste.

So, this Christmas season, remind your kids to NOT take a holiday from clean living. As parents, we need to inspire kids and teens of all ages to become advocates for a sustainable future -- a future that will be in their hands.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with Clean Foundation and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.

A Birthday Letter to My Oldest Son on his 12th Birthday

In keeping with family tradition, today I am sharing a birthday letter to my oldest son on his 12th birthday. Each year (on my boys' birthdays), I write them letters in an attempt to capture a little bit of their personalities on paper. It's a tradition that is very special to me, and I am happy to have the opportunity to share it with you. Here is this year's letter to my first born son.

My kind and driven son,

I can't believe that you are only one year away from being a teenager. I feel like girlfriends and a driver's licence are just around the corner... and I am not ready! It makes me a bit sad to see my little boy slipping away, but I couldn't be more proud to be the mother of the wonderful young man you are becoming.

Here are a few reasons that you are the most special 12 year old I have ever met:

  • You continue to mature and take on more responsibilities. I never even need to ask if you have homework because I know you have it under control.
  • You are getting older, but I can still sneak a cuddle on movie night when you are distracted by popcorn and treats.
  • Hockey is your passion. Even though you are young and small, you always work hard, and you play with a lot of heart. Dad and I really admire your determination and work ethic.
  • You love playing mini sticks and collecting Tim Hortons hockey cards. Your favourite show is Sports Centre, and you love the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Your brothers continue to be your best buddies. You are always "taking shots" on each other, playing catch, and running around together.
  • You are continuing to learn to play the guitar, and you love learning new songs.
  • Your confidence is impressive, and I hope it continues to grow in the years to come. (This year, you read at your Great Grampie's funeral, and I was proud of your poise and heartfelt delivery.)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches are still your favourite snack... especially when Nanny treats you to white rolls.
  • Your favourite colour is blue, your hockey number is 11, and your sport's hero is Auston Matthews.

Happy birthday, my angelic boy. You may almost be a teenager, but you will always be my baby. I love you to the moon and back!


10 Gift Ideas for DADS (under $100)

Let's be honest, Dads are incredibly special... AND incredibly hard to buy gifts for. But don't worry, today I am sharing 10 fantastic gifts ideas for DADS, and you are guaranteed to find something perfect for the special man in your life!

Note: I was NOT paid to include any items in this list. All 10 gift ideas for DADS are items that I thought would make wonderful presents. However, I have included a few affiliate links, so if you decide to buy a product using one of my affiliate links, I will receive a few cents from the sale. Thanks for helping support all the free content I provide via this blog.

1) For the Dad who can never find his keys - If your Dad has ever uttered the words "Have you seen my .......?", this is the perfect gift. These tiles are great for locating keys, wallets, phones, etc..., and you can buy them here.

2) For the Dad who loves to read - A good book always makes a wonderful gift. I'm sure you know the genre that is best for your special guy, but I think "Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe" is a great choice. The funny and heartwarming stories are perfect for the holidays.

3) For the Dad who can't live without his phone - Don't let your "always needs to be connected" father end up with a dead phone. This portable charger will ensure that you can always reach your special guy when you need him.
4) For the Dad who loves to grill - If your father is the king of the grill in your neighbourhood, check out this BBQ temperature thermometer. Your gadget-loving Dad will be a grill master with this handy tool.

5) For the Dad who is always cheering on his team - If your father is a big sports fan, you can never go wrong with sports apparel. In our house, it's all hockey all the time, so I know this Auston Matthews jersey would be a big hit.

6) For the Dad who loves a sweet treat - This gift is simple to make, and couldn't be more inexpensive. Find the simple "how to" here.

7) For the Dad who cares about his grooming - If your father enjoys having every hair and whisker in place, this grooming kit would make a perfect gift. Your good looking dad will be even more handsome with the help of this multi purpose tool. 

8) For the Dad who likes to play - If your Dad is always up for a game of cards, this lovely wooden cribbage board would make a wonderful gift. I love that there is a spot for cards and pegs inside. 

9) For the Dad that is hard to buy for - If you have a "difficult to buy for" father, why not get him a gift card? He'll be guaranteed to get exactly what he wants... and it will definitely be the right size and colour. 

10) For the Dad that likes a well stocked bar - This electric wine opener combines form and function. If your father likes a nice bottle of wine, he'll love this useful gadget.

Is there something on this list that would work for the special man in your life? What's your "go to" gift for Dad?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids (UNDER $10)

There is nothing better than a cute, unique, and inexpensive stocking stuffer idea... and today I am sharing TEN stocking stuffer ideas for kids that are all under $10. 
Note: I was NOT paid to include any items in this list. All 10 stocking stuffer ideas are items that I thought were cute. However, I have included a few affiliate links, so if you decide to buy a product using one of my affiliate links, I will receive a few cents from the sale. Thanks for helping support all the free content I provide via this blog.

1) Snowman Gum - These cute treat cost less than a dollar and only takes a few minutes to put together. Cute, right? Find the details here.

2) Christmas Crayons - These unique crayons are easy to make from old broken crayons and a dollar store muffin tin. Find the full "how to" here

3) Bedtime Coupons - What's better than staying up late... by order of Santa? These bedtime pass coupons are adorable, and you can download them for FREE here.

4) Personalized MyMojis Pins - These personal buttons are super-cute and only $9.99 for THREE! Here is the personal pin I created for myself. Cute, right???

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5) Book - I love giving books at Christmas, and this is a fun book/game for Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans. Check it out here

6) Game - Card games make perfect stocking stuffers, and Uno is classic. Check it out here

7) Toothbrush - Christmas is a great time to get a new toothbrush, and my boys would love this Star Wars model. The fun design will encourage kids to brush a little longer too! Check it out here.

8) Craft Supplies - Craft kits and supplies make great stocking stuffers, and this Shrinky Dinks kit is inexpensive and adorable. Check it out here

9) Tiny Toys - Tiny toys and trinkets make great stocking stuffers, and what could be more classic than a slinky? Check it out here

10) LEGO - LEGO is always a hit with little ones, and small kits and minifigures fit perfectly in stockings. Check out the cute, new Ninjago minifigures here.

What's your idea of the perfect stocking stuffer? What do you think of the items on my list? Happy shopping!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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