Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I love a good cookie recipe... and so do my boys. Chocolate chip cookies are a staple around here, but these soft and chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are also a favourite. The cookies freeze well too, so they are great for packing up individually, freezing, and popping in my boys' lunch boxes.


Here's the recipe for my favourite soft and chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies:

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (softened... not in the microwave)
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) In a large bowl, cream together: butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
3) Beat in eggs (one at a time)
4) Add vanilla.
5) In a separate bowl, whisk together: flour, baking soda, and salt.
6) Mix wet and dry ingredients.
7) Stir in chocolate chips.
8) Drop by heaping spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (I use a small cookie scoop.)
9) Bake for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool, and transfer onto a wire rack.



If you love a soft and chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, you are going to love this recipe. Give it a try and let me know what you think.


Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Bathroom Refresh on a SMALL Budget ($250)

Sometimes there is a room in the house that really needs a makeover, but time and budget are major concerns. We have a bathroom at the top of our stairs that desperately needed a refresh, but because it is barely used, we didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. So, with our small budget of $250, we pushed ahead... and today, I am sharing the results of our efforts. 


(Note: I had some trouble taking photos in my small bathroom and I was getting glares on the pictures of my boys. As a result of the "angles" I was taking the pictures at, it appears that some of my photos are crooked... but I assure you, they are straight in real life. lol)

One of the major problems with our bathroom was the fact that the light fixture was off center, and it could't be fixed without electrical work (which was out of the scope of the project). It literally drove me crazy every time I looked at it.

BEFORE

In order to solve the problem, I bought an inexpensive vertical mirror and placed some vertical objects to the right of the mirror... to trick the eye into thinking things were more balanced. It worked really well. I also painted the room and cleared the clutter.

AFTER

I also needed to update the decor that had been in this bathroom since my boys were babies and toddlers.

BEFORE

I got rid of the basket that once held diapers and baby bath stuff. In its place, I put a vase of flowers and a couple of inexpensive succulents. I also replaced the childish "frog" shower curtain with a lovely striped one, and I placed coordinating towels on the back of the toilet. I think the result is much more age appropriate for my boys now.

AFTER

Here's the view of the small bathroom from the hallway.

BEFORE

AFTER

Finally, I updated the boring towel rack with some hooks that are much more functional for my boys. Each boy now has his own towel hanging under his baby picture. Cute, right? (The grey frames were only $10 each, and I love how they look).

BEFORE

AFTER


I love that the bathroom looks totally renovated for less than $250! Here's how my budget broke down:

paint (Benjamin Moore... raindance) - $50
three grey frames (Superstore) - $10 each - $30
shower curtain (Superstore) - $26
three hooks (Kent) - $5 each - $15
six towels (3 for on the hooks and 3 folded on the back of the toilet) (Superstore) - $8 each - $48
new bath mat  (Superstore) - $16
soap dispenser (Dollar Store) - $4
succulents (Superstore) - $11
vase  (Dollar Store) - $4
tall flowers in vase - $4
mirror - $55
minus the two items I was able to sell - $10 for the mirror and $15 for the old frames

There are other things I would like to do to my bathroom at a later date (like replacing the sink, vanity, and light fixture), but for my $250 budget, I'm super pleased with how it looks. What do you think about my refresh?


Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)



Find more design ideas (on a budget) here.

5 Tips for Organizing a Child's Room

When it comes to organizing my home, my boys' bedrooms are particularly challenging for me. My three boys have tons of books, toys and clothes, and I struggle to keep it all tidy and organized. Today, I am sharing my 5 best tips for organizing a kid's room... and you are going to love them. The new way of folding clothes is going to rock your world!


1) Fold clothes right. - In my house, the socks are flat, and the clothes are folded in thirds and stored vertically. It looks super-tidy, and my boys can easily find the items they are looking for in their drawers. Check out the video at the bottom of this post to see exactly how I do it.


2) Use baskets. A couple of baskets on top of a dresser are perfect for all the odds and ends in a child's room. Kids can put their miscellaneous items in these baskets... instead of on the floor.


3) Store stuffed animals in a bean bag chair cover. Instead of having stuffies all over the floor, they can be stuffed into a bean bag chair cover. It contains the chaos, and it makes a comfy reading seat too.


4) Use a clear shoe rack on the back of the door. I use these clear shoe racks all over my house, and they are awesome! The clear pockets make it easy for kids to store and access their stuff. I use them for LEGO, but they work well for clothing, craft supplies, and any small toys.


5) Make books organized and accessible. Make sure all the books have a "home". You can use a nightstand, baskets, or shelving. Also, rotate books on a regular basis... out with the old and in with the new.


You may want to check out this video I made in my son's room. It's less than 4 minutes, and it contains some get tips and tricks for organizing a kid's room.



What are you best tips for organizing a child's room? I love the way my boys' drawers are organized, but all the tips I've shared are fantastic. They are easy, inexpensive, and effective. Let me know your favourite in the comments below.


Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

7 Things to Consider When Deciding the RIGHT Age to Buy Your Kids a Phone

Recently, on my Facebook page, I asked my readers what they thought the right age was to buy kids a phone. After reading their answers, I don't think there is a set "age" that works for everyone. As with most parenting issues, every parent must make the decision that works best for their family... but there are several important things to consider.


My boys are currently 9, 11, and 13, and I haven't gotten them phones yet... but they are asking. (My oldest used his own money to purchase a device after he turned 13, but he has no data plan yet.) If you are having this discussion with your kids, here are some things to consider when deciding the "right age" to buy your kids a phone:

1) Is the child mature enough to handle the responsibility of a phone? Kids mature at different times... so age is often less of a consideration than maturity.

2) Have you talked to him/her about bullying and social media? Kids need to be taught about the dangers of social media, and before they are given a phone, the rules about how and when they use social media need to be clearly communicated.

3) What kind of phone does the child need? Is a flip phone sufficient? Do they just need an iPod? Are they going to have wifi access?

4) How will the phone be paid for? Will the child be required to pay the monthly bill? Will the child get a job, or will they be required to do extra chores around the house?

5) Are there special circumstances that make a phone necessary? Does the child share time between two households? Does the child need to contact parents to be picked up at after school activities?

6) Does the child need a phone for safety reasons? Is he/she driving? Does he/she come home after school by themselves? Does he/she travel alone on public transit? Does he/she have access to a house phone?

7) What rules do you want to put in place around the use of a phone? Will you do weekly check ins and go through the phone together? Will the phone have restricted access settings? Are there time limits around the usage of the phone? Is the phone allowed in the bedroom... or in public areas only? Are there consequences if the child doesn't answer the phone when a parent calls or texts? What are the consequences going to be if the rules are broken?

Whatever you decide, make sure the rules and expectations are clear from the beginning and continue to have an open dialogue with your child about the phone and its usage.

You know your child and your requirements. It's an important decision, and it is one that every parent must make for themselves and their family based on their own circumstances and beliefs.

Does your child have a phone? What age did you think worked for your family? 


Gina Bell
(aka East Coast Mommy)

Tips for Setting Up a Successful SHARED Bedroom

Not everyone has a huge house, so for families with multiple kids, sharing rooms is a necessity. In my home, two of my boys share a room, and it was important to me that their room was organized, and both boys felt that they had their "own space". Today I am sharing my best tips setting up a SHARED bedroom.


1) Let the kids have input into the theme and design of the room. If the two kids have similar interests... go with that. My boys wanted a "hockey theme" for their room. I included some hockey items, but I also used neutral pieces to make the room feel more classic and grown up.


2) Keep organized with functional storage solutions (bins, baskets, and shoes racks). When kids are sharing a space, it's important to make sure systems are in place to keep things organized. My boys have baskets for their books, shelves with baskets for their "stuff", and a shoe rack on the back of their door to organize their LEGO.




3) Use DIY elements to define the space. DIY projects can really help to pull a space together, define a space, and add a personal touch. I created hockey sticks with names to hang at the heads of my boys heads. It's my favourite part of their room.



4) Give each child their own "side". Kids need their own space, so even if they share a room, they need areas that belong "just to them". In my boys room, one of my boys has shelving with his first jersey in a frame and space for his LEGO creations. My other son has a wall display of his first jersey, an enlarged picture of him playing hockey at the beach, and framed hockey cards (belonging to his favourite player).



I actually have space in my basement for another room (and I'll likely move one of my boys there at some point), but for now, I love the bond that they are building as roommates. They really like their room, and I love listening to them chat when they go to bed.

Do your children share a room? I hope some of my tips are helpful!

♥ Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (If you are interested in reading more about my boys shared hockey bedroom on a budget, you can read about it here.)