Elegant DIY Winter Wreath

This time of year, I take down my Christmas wreath, and I try to come up with a pretty DIY winter wreath to replace it.  Today, I hung this elegant felt wreath on my front door, and I absolutely love it!

To make this wonderful winter wreath:

1) Start by cutting a circle from foam core (from the dollar store).  I cut mine about 2 inches thick.  Don't worry about jagged edges because you won't see them when the wreath is completed.

2) Wrap yarn around the foam core securing with hot glue periodically.

3) Make A LOT of white felt roses, and hot glue them to the wreath.  You can find a step-by-step tutorial for making felt roses here.

4) Add a bow.  (I found this teal/glittery bow in the Easter section at the dollar store).

I am so pleased with how this felt winter wreath turned out -- and it was super-easy and inexpensive! What do you hang on your front door this time of year?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Bubble Valentines {with free printable tags}

Check out the cute Valentines that my five year old will be sharing with his classmates this year.  Don't you love the cute tags I made to go with these little containers of bubbles?

I think bubbles are a great candy-free option for class treats, and I bought enough bubbles for my son's whole class for less than $5.  

You can download the tags I designed by right clicking on the picture below, saving it to your computer, and printing it like a normal 4X6 photo.

Do your little ones like to share unique DIY Valentines with their friends?  I think these "bubble" Valentines make really great class treats, don't you?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Teddy Bear Valentine {with free printable tags}

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about the candy.  How cute is this candy-free Valentine?

I purchased this tiny teddy bear at the dollar store, and I attached an adorable tag that says, "I am BEARY happy to have a friend like you.  Happy Valentine's Day!" 

You can print the tag I designed by right-clicking on the picture (below), saving it to your computer, and printing it like a normal 4X6 photo.

Isn't this a cute candy-free Valentine for little ones to share with their friends? It's easy, inexpensive, and super-cute!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Spy Party - 5 easy and inexpensive games

Last summer, I threw a SPY PARTY for my 7 year old, and the DIY games I prepared for the kids were a huge hit!  Today, I am sharing the tutorials for 5 easy and inexpensive DIY spy party games.

1) Dynamite (hot potato) - This was a really popular game with the children at the party. The kids sat in a circle, and passed the "dynamite" around the circle until the alarm went off.  Whoever was holding the dynamite when it "exploded" was eliminated.  The game continued until there was only one child left.

To make the dynamite, wrap three empty paper towel rolls in red tissue paper.  Then, attach the rolls together with black electrical tape.  To finish, attach a cheap kitchen timer from the dollar store, and add a few wires (for looks), if desired.

2) Pom pom shooter target practice - The party guests had a great time shooting pom poms at this target (which was made from an old box).

You can find the full tutorial for the pom pom shooters here.

And you can find instructions for making a target practice from a box here.

3) What's missing? - This is an easy game, but it was very popular with the party guests.  To play, the guests were shown a bunch of "spy items".  Then, the children were asked to close their eyes while I took an item away.  After they opened their eyes, the kids had to guess which item was missing.  Fun, right?

4) Spy training relay - This game is simple, but lots of fun for active children.  I divided the kids into two teams.  Then, the kids did a relay where they had to change into a "disguise" before they ran their leg of the race.

5) Pin the disguise on the spy - This "spy" version of "pin the tail on the donkey" is simple, fun, and totally cute.  I printed an 8X10 picture of my son's head, I taped it to a piece of bristol board, and I added a hat.  Then, each child was blindfolded and given a moustache to tape to my son's face.  Cute, right?

I love how easy and inexpensive these DIY spy party games are. They'd be fun for an afternoon of "playing spies" too.

Do your little ones love pretending to be spies?  My boys definitely do!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Dishwasher Tips and Tricks

With three busy boys that are constantly eating, my dishwasher gets A LOT of use.  I don't have a lot of time to spend on dishes, so it is important that I get the most out of this useful appliance.  Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

For me, loading the dishwasher properly is key.  I am still training my family to do it (as I am obsessed with doing it properly), but a well loaded dishwasher means: cleaner dishers and fewer washes.  You can also learn some fantastic tips from Frigidaire here

My favorite feature of my Frigidaire Gallery® dishwasher with OrbitClean® technology is the 30-minute quick wash feature.  When my boys get home from school, I unpack their lunches, pop the dishes in the dishwasher, and turn on the 30-minute cycle.  By the time they have a quick snack, and get ready for their after school hockey practice, the dishes are done, and I can quickly pack their lunches before heading out the door.

What's your favorite dishwasher tip? I have read my manual from front to back, but I am always interested in advice from other moms!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: I am part of the Frigidaire Canada Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

FREE e-books and a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card

Recently, I was asked to check out "The Adventures of Napkin Man" e-books with my 5 year old.  I easily downloaded the three e-books {for free} onto my iPad, and they were a hit with my little guy... and his two big brothers.

This is the first time I have ever downloaded e-books for my kids, and I had a great experience.  Each of these e-books starts with a tale a child facing an emotional challenge, and then the story provides coping strategies in an entertaining way.  These e-books are highly interactive and intuitive, and they include a series of activities, songs and games.

Here are the links to the 3 e-books (for iPad) that my boys and I downloaded and read:

Penguin-A-Go-Go Messaging around calming down

Treasure for All Messaging around sharing

Say Hello Messaging around shyness

Free e-books are awesome... but that's not the only good news I am sharing today.  I also have a $100 VISA gift card to give away to one of Canadian readers.  (As Napkin Man can only be read on iPads and downloaded through iTunes, maybe the winner could put the $100 toward his/her own iPad, or purchasing other educational material.)

To enter, please leave a comment below letting me know which e-book your little one would be most interested in reading.  Don't forget to leave your email address (if you don't have one linked to your profile), so that I can contact you if you win. Contest closes February 8th.

Enjoy the e-books, and good luck with the giveaway!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: I am part of The Adventures of Napkin Man campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Contest Rules:
1) The winner of the contest will be chosen by the Random Number Generator.
2) To enter the contest, you must leave a comment on this post (with contact info). Contest is open to Canadian Residents only.
3) This contest is not being hosted or sanctioned in any way by Facebook.
4) Contest closes on February 8, 2015 at 11:59pm EST.
5) Prize will be accepted as awarded. 
6) Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected.
7) Readers may enter across many blogs, but they may only win once.
8) Winners can expect their prize in approximately 4-6 weeks.

Olaf Hat {free printable template}

Every week I do an alphabet craft with a group of Preschoolers, and this week we did "O" is for Olaf.  All the kids in my class made these adorable Olaf hats.

How cute is my 5 year old in his Olaf hat?  To make your own hat:

1)  Download a pdf version of the Olaf hat I designed here and print it onto cardstock.

2)  Have the child color the template.

3)  Have the child cut along the line to separate the face from the teeth and branch.  They should also cut out the branch and teeth.

4)  Add another strip of paper to the face to form a headband that fits the child.  Tape in place.

5)  Use tape to attach the branch and teeth.

That's it!  Do you have a Frozen fan that would enjoy making this Olaf hat?  I think it is a fantastic craft for Preschoolers (and older children too)!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
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