Simple Heart Shaped Cake {no special pan required}

I don't have room to store a bunch of specialty cake pans, so I love the idea of making a heart-shaped cake for Valentines day without having to buy a heart-shaped pan.

To make a simple heart-shaped cake for your little sweethearts, all you need to do is make one square cake and one round cake.  (I used a cake mix for my cakes.)

Then, trim the cakes (if necessary), cover with a crumb coat, and put the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes to set the icing.

Finish the cake by icing and decorating it any way you want.  You can even let the kids do it.

Don't you love how simple this heart-shaped cake is to make?  I think it would make a fun Valentine's Day dessert, don't you?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Airplane Valentine {with free printable tags}

I love sending my boys to school with unique DIY Valentines to share with their friends.  This year, my 7 year old picked these inexpensive airplane favours, and I designed tags that say, "It's PLANE to see you're a great friend." Cute, right?

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

I found these airplane party favours at the dollar store (12 for $1.25), but you could also use these tags with a "make your own paper airplanes" kit.  Just use fun square of patterned paper, or the paper airplane template you can find here.

I think these DIY Valentines are easy, inexpensive, and fun... don't you?  What will your little ones be sharing with their classmates this year?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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.
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