How you can challenge yourself (and your kids) to learn something new

I am a big advocate of life-long learning... but sometimes it's a struggle to find the time to learn something new. So for March break, I decided to challenge my boys to learn something new, and I decided to challenge myself too. With some literary inspiration from DK Books*, my boys are going to learn to cook/bake a few things, and I am going to learn a bit of embroidery and knitting. You can read more about my "learn something new challenge" (and our book choices) below.

*Disclosure: I was given these books (at no cost) by DK books in exchange for my truthful review. I have also included Amazon links in this post. If you purchase one of these books using my link, I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you!

My plan is to have each of my boys choose a recipe from the cookbooks I ordered for them, shop for the ingredients, and follow the recipe (with only a small amount of supervision from me). The boys can serve their creations to the family, and when they have all completed their recipes, they can choose something for me to make for them. Fun, right?

These are the two books I chose for my boys: 

1) Bake ItMore Than 150 Recipes for Kids from Simple Cookies to Creative Cakes! 

2) Kids' Fun and Healthy Cookbook Canadian Edition

I have been wanting to get my boys cooking more, and I think this "learn something new" challenge is a great way to do it.

I think my boys will enjoy following the recipes in these books (with their simple instructions and pictures).

These are the two books I chose for me.

1) The Knitting Book: Over 250 Step-by-Step Techniques
2) Embroidery: A Step-by-Step Guide to More than 200 Stitches

I have all four of our new books sitting on my coffee table, and as soon as we have the time, my boys and I are going to work on completing our challenges. I believe that you can learn new things at any age, don't you?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Vacation Photo Gallery Wall

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best one, and today I am sharing an easy decorating idea with you. I have always been a fan of hanging family photos as artwork, but creating a vacation photo gallery wall is my new favourite DIY.

Since my husband and I have had our boys, we have taken a few major family vacations. During our trips, I always make a point to get a special photo (of the five of us) commemorating the trip.

Recently, I decided to frame them all, and hang them in our hallway. I even added a little label with the year of the trip (so that we don't forget).

Note: My hallway is too narrow to get a "front on" picture of my gallery, so they don't look straight... but they actually are. lol

This little "family trip" gallery wall was easy and inexpensive to put together, and it brings me great joy every time I walk by it. My boys are loving it too!

I can't wait to add a new photo to my gallery when we travel to Florida again this May.

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find more family travel ideas here.

10 Books that you are going to want to take on your next Vacation

There is nothing like a reading a great book when you are on vacation. For a vacation book, I love an easy read that I can't put down, don't you? So today, I am sharing 10 of my favourite vacation books (in no particular order). If there is a book on this list that you haven't read, I highly recommend clicking the link and ordering it from Amazon today

Note: These are Amazon affiliate links, so if you order using one of these links, I will receive a small commission (at NO extra cost to you) that will help me to continue to provide free content on this blog. Thank you!

1) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 
(click the link above for more details)

2) Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman
(click the link above for more details)

3) Educated by Tara Westover
(click the link above for more details)

4) The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
(click the link above for more details)

5) The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
(click the link above for more details)

6) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
(click the link above for more details)

7) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
(click the link above for more details)

8) Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
(click the link above for more details)

9) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
(click the link above for more details)

10) The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
(click the link above for more details)

Have you read any of these books? What's next on your reading list? There really is nothing better than a good book... especially when you are on vacation. Am I right?!?

I'm looking for a book for my next vacation. Leave me your recommendations in the comments below. Thanks!

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Chip Valentine... including free printable tags

Not everyone loves things that are sweet, so this DIY Valentine might be just what you are looking for. It's perfect for the person on your list that loves a salty snack. Today, I'm sharing an adorable (and punny) "Chip" Valentine with free downloadable tags. You're going to love this one!

This Valentine is great for adults, kids, friends, and classmates. Just download the tags I designed, and attach them to your favourite flavour of chips. It doesn't get much easier than that!

To download the tags I designed: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

Isn't this a cute idea?

If you are looking for a simple and cute last minute Valentine for your sweetheart, this "chip" Valentine is perfect. 

Who would you give this DIY Valentine to?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find MORE easy and inexpensive 

Showing Your Home some LOVE for Valentine's Day

Disclosure: I received compensation from Schlage for including their lock in this post; however, be assured that the opinions expressed in this blog are 100% my own... and I know you are going to love my new DIY wreaths.

If you follow my blog, you already know that I really enjoy decorating my home for holidays and that I love easy and inexpensive DIY decor. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, today I'm sharing a few of my favourite ideas for showing my home some love for Valentine's Day.

In 2012, I made this felt rosette wreath for Valentine's Day, and since then, it has been hanging on my front door annually. However, a few months ago, my husband installed a gorgeous new Schlage handle on our front door. It is now the perfect showcase for DIY wreaths, so I thought it would be fun to craft something new this year.

I ended up creating two NEW DIY wreaths, and I love them both.

The first wreath I made for the exterior of my door is reminiscent of an argyle sweater. I love the simplicity of this cozy wreath, don't you?

To make this argyle sweater wreath (from yarn and felt):

1) Wrap a foam wreath form in white yarn (securing it periodically with hot glue).
2) Cut hearts from various colours of felt.
3) Use hot glue to attach the felt hearts to the wreath.
4) Creat an argyle looking pattern by wrapping yarn in one direction... and then wrapping yarn in the other direction (securing periodically with hot glue).

I also made a simple wreath for the interior of my door. I wrapped a metal ring in twine, made handmade felt flowers (using online tutorials), and secured the flowers to the wreath with hot glue. This simple wreath looks fantastic hanging on my blue door.

My new wreaths look great with my new Schlage Encode handle (which is not only beautiful, but 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 about 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!

What do you think of my two NEW wreaths? Which one do you like best?

This Valentine's Day, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a LOVEly 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 show my home some LOVE for Valentine's Day, and I hope I inspired you to do it too!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Donut Valentines... with free printable tags

Who doesn't love donuts? They really are a perfectly "sweet" gifts to share on Valentine's Day. Today, I am sharing some wonderful ways to share donuts on February 14th with friends, kids, classmates, and family... and I'm including some free printable gift tags.

How cute are these donut hole arrows for Valentine's Day? I started with skewers, threaded donut holes onto the skewers, and used hot glue to attach card stock to the ends. My boys absolutely loved them, and I think they are totally adorable!

They'd be cute to share with classmates too... with a "DONUT forget that I think you are a great friend!" tags.

If you are planning to transport them, I'd suggest packaging them in clear bags with some curling ribbon (like this).

For an easier option, you can skip creating the arrows and just stick a few donuts in a bag. Still cute, right?

To download the cute tags I designed: clock on the appropriate tag below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 picture.

I might make this special snack for my boys too. Nothing beats donuts and milk as an after school snack.

A donut bouquet is another wonderful way to share donuts this Valentine's Day. It's a great alternative to flowers, and kids will love making this clever gift too. You can can find the full "how to" instructions (including a step-by-step video) here.

I love all these ideas for gifting donuts on Valentine's Day, don't you? Donuts in all shapes and sizes will definitely be on my shopping list this year. 😄

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find MORE easy and inexpensive 

DIY Hockey Valentine

My boys have never liked giving out those "store bought" class Valentine's. So, every year, I have tried to come up with a new idea for a treat or trinket they can share with their friends. My older two boys are too old for Valentine's this year, but my youngest son still needs a fun card to share with his friends. Given that he is a lover of all things hockey, I decided to create a simple DIY hockey Valentine this year.

I started by taking a picture of him at the rink. (As you can see, he's trying out being a goalie this year, which is not good for his mother's heart. lol)

Then, I used photo editing software to add a fun message to the top of the Valentine. I love puns, so the Valentine says, "You are top shelf. Happy Valentine's Day!"

I used because it is easy to use, you don't need to download anything, and it's free.

I printed the 4x6 photos, used an x-acto knife to cut two slits in the pictures, and inserted heart-shaped suckers.

And it works for players too! I made this one for my nephew. (You can take a picture of a child shooting top shelf and use "You are top shelf" or you can use a little poem like... "Red lines are red. Blue lines are blue. Hockey is fun, and so are you!"

Isn't this an adorable Valentine?!?! I made enough for my son's class, and it didn't take me long at all.

If you have a hockey fan in your life, you should totally give these DIY Valentines a try this year. You could do a similar thing for other sports too. What sport do your kids play? Would they like this ideas?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - If you want to give Valentine's to give your teammates, these tags are adorable. Click on the picture below, right-click, save it to your computer and print it like a regular 4x6 photo. Use ribbon to attach it to a package of Excel gum, and you are good to go!

You can find MORE easy and inexpensive 

If you have a hockey fan in the house, you might also like this hockey post.

Don't miss any of the fun....