Crayon Valentines {with free printable tags}

Today I am sharing the totally adorable DIY Valentine that my youngest son is giving to his classmates this Valentine's Day. We melted down old crayons to create multi-colored crayon hearts. I also designed a sweet tag that you can download and print {for free}. Cute, right???


To make the recycled crayons:

1) Soak the crayons in water, and have the kids peel the paper off the crayons.
2) Break up the crayons, and put them in a heart-shaped muffin tin. I found this silicon one at the dollar store. (Don't forget to the put the flimsy silicon muffin tin on a cookie sheet before you pop it into the oven.) 
3) Melt the crayons in the oven (at 300 degrees for approximately 10 minutes).
4) Carefully remove the crayons from the oven, and allow to cool completely before removing from the muffin tin.


Look at how beautiful they look when they are finished!


To make them into a Valentine, you are going to want to include a cute little tag. To download the one I designed: right click on the photo below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.


Cut the tags, hole punch the corners, and attach the tags to bags containing the crayons (with a little curling ribbon).


My little guy is anxious to share these adorable crayon Valentine's with his friends. I think they are fantastic alternatives to candy and sugary snacks. Happy Valentine's Day!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Pencil Valentine {with free printable tags}

Do your children share Valentines with the kids in their class? This is a simple pencil Valentine that any child would enjoy sharing with his/her friends. Buy Valentine themed pencils and add the FREE tag that I designed to create an instant Valentine that is cute, useful, and sugar free.


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


Cut the tags, punch a hole in the corner, and attach to the pencil with some curling ribbon. Easy, right? I think this would be a sweet Valentine for a teacher to share with his/her students too!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Minion Valentines... with free printable tags

I love an extra special "class Valentine", and I adore these adorable Minion Valentines! These free, printable tags I designed can be used with any minion treat or trinket, but I attached the tags to some pre-packaged Minion cookies.


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

Cute, right? These tags could be used with any Minion themed treat. I saw some fun "gummies" that would work too.


I think Minions are adorable, don't you?  Do you have little ones that would enjoy sharing these adorable Valentines with their classmates?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Star Wars Valentines... with free printable tags

My boys love bringing Valentines and treats to school to share with their friends and classmates, and I like to come up with fun, new ideas for them. This year, my boys are crazy for Star Wars, so when I saw these cookies, I knew one of my boys needed to bring Star Wars Valentines!


I designed some tags, and then I stapled them to the top of the cookies. It couldn't be easier!

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


Aren't they cute? I love that they are prepackaged and peanut free.




If you have a Star Wars fan in your home, you should give these Star Wars Valentines a try. They are easy, inexpensive, and super-cute!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Valentine's Day Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers (with free printable)

I love a simple craft that only requires basic crafting supplies, don't you? This Valentine's Day craft just uses paper and glue, and it couldn't be cuter!


First, download and print the heart template I designed. Click here for the link to the pdf version. Or, you can right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.


Then, have the child rip bits of construction paper and glue them to the heart. This is a fantastic (and simple) Valentine that kids can make for someone special. Cute, right?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Duct Tape Sled

I recently saw a post at Artzy Creations about making a sled out of a box and duct tape.  I instantly knew that this was an activity that my boys would love! Below, I explain how easy and inexpensive it is to recycle an old cardboard box into a super-fun (and fast) duct tape sled.


To make a duct tape sled, you'll need: a cardboard box, 3-4 rolls of duct tape, and scissors and/or an X-Acto knife. (I got my duct tape at the dollar store for $1.25 per roll.)


Start by cutting one side out of a box. We used a 5 cube moving box.

Then, fold one end of the box over, and cut a handle through the two layers. The extra layer of cardboard will make the handle stronger.

Finish by covering the entire sled with duct tape. Make sure to seal all the edges with duct tape, and overlap the tape to ensure that the cardboard will stay dry. You are also going to want to use the tape vertically as much as possible to increase the speed of the sled.


I think this duct tape sled is a fantastic way to recycle an old box. We had fun crafting, and we made a sled for less than $5! Pretty fun, right?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Valentine's Day Cupcake Parfaits

A few weeks ago I shared some adorable cupcake parfaits that I made for my boys as an after school treat. They turned out so well that I knew I needed to make a fun version for Valentine's Day. How cute are these simple Valentine's Day cupcake parfaits that I made for my boys?


First, you'll need to start with your favourite cupcake recipe. I enjoy a good shortcut, so I always use my not-so-secret BEST CUPCAKES FROM A MIX recipe (which you can find on my blog here).

Then, add pink food coloring to store-bought icing, and pipe it onto the cupcakes.

Finish by filling dollar store plastic wine glasses with Valentine's Day candy and popping the cupcakes into the glasses. Add extra pieces of candy to the top, if desired.



These Valentine's Day cupcake parfaits are easy enough to make for dessert at home, but they would be impressive at a party too. Who would you make these cupcakes for? My three boys (and my husband) are always my special Valentines!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Snow Ice Cream with Evaporated Milk

We had a huge snowfall yesterday, and when my boys found out school was cancelled, the first thing they asked was, "Can we make snow ice cream?". If you have never made snow ice cream, you need to try it!



I normally make snow ice cream with condensed milk, but I didn't have any in my cupboard, so I used this modified recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Big bowl of fluffy, clean, freshly fallen snow (approx. 8 cups) 
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (or a little less if you want it a little less sweet)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • desired toppings (e.g. chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, m&ms, whipped cream, etc...)
Directions:

Collect the snow, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and stir until combined. Add evaporated milk and vanilla, and stir again. Serve immediately, add desired toppings, and enjoy!


This really is the perfect snow day treat. My boys love it made with condensed milk and with the evaporated milk and sugar. If you give both recipes a try, let me know if you have a favourite.

♥ 
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

My Best is the Best I Can Do... and that's OK

I am not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do believe that a new year is a perfect opportunity to take stock of your life and reflect on improvements that can be made. Like all moms, I struggle with trying to do everything well (which we all know is unrealistic). I know that I can't be perfect, so this year, my resolution is to cut myself a little slack. I am going to try to accept the fact that my best is the best I can do, and it is good enough. Who's with me?


Moms are notoriously hard on themselves, and on each other. So, this year, let's make a pact... let's do our best to support other moms and to remember that we are all doing our best, and we are all doing a fantastic job. You can even send this post to someone that needs a little reminder.

And, if you need some help staying positive and motivated, Netflix can help. Check out this fantastic list of inspiring titles that you can stream on Netflix now.


9 inspiring tales from Netflix:

1) The Short Game
2) On the Way to School
3) Generation Earth
4) My Lucky Elephant
5) Soul Surfer
6) Planet Earth
7) McFarland
8) Patch Adams
9) Mission Blue

I haven't seen all these movies yet, but I am adding them to my 2016 Netflix viewing list. I can use all the inspiration and positivity I can get.

♥ 
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeamI am given special perks and gifts, but all opinions in this blog our 100% my own.

Simple Swiss Cheese Dip

Cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, and this simple swiss cheese dip makes a delicious appetizer. Serve the dip warm with crackers and watch it disappear.


You'll just need four ingredients: 

1 package cream cheese (softened)
1 1/2 cups swiss cheese (grated)
1/3 cup mayonaise (or miracle whip)
1/3 cup sliced almonds (toasted, if desired)


Use a potato masher to mix the cream cheese, swiss cheese, and miracle whip.

Spoon into an oven safe dish (or divide between two dishes). Sprinkle with almonds.

Place in oven for 10 minutes, stir, and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes. (Garnish with additional toasted almonds, if desired.)



My mom has been making this dip for years, and it is always a big hit with guests. If you give it a try, let me know what you think.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Cupcake Parfaits

Sometimes a special occasion deserves a special treat... and these adorable cupcake parfaits are among the cutest treats I have ever made. They are easy and inexpensive to make, and children and adults will love them!


First, you'll need to start with your favorite cupcake recipe. I enjoy a good shortcut, so I always use my not-so-secret BEST CUPCAKES FROM A MIX recipe (which you can find on my blog here).


Then, add gel food colouring to store bought icing, and pipe it onto the cupcakes.

Finish by filling plastic wine glass with Smarties or M&Ms and popping cupcakes into the glasses. Additional Smarties on top add an extra bit of fun too!


These cupcake parfaits look impressive enough for a party, but they are simple enough to make any time. I just made them for my boys as an after school snack, and they were smiling from ear to ear. I am looking forward to making them again, and I highly recommend giving them a try. If you make them, let me know how they turn out.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (You can actually use any candy for the cup and garnish. My boys have requested Skittles next time... but I think Reese mini peanut butter cups would be my favorite.)