Scrap Ribbon Ornament

Simple homemade ornaments add a lot to the coziness of Christmas. I love the idea of having the kids make their own ornaments to display at home or give as gifts. Today I am sharing a simple handmade scrap ribbon ornament that is perfect for older children to make and share.

To make this adorable scrap ribbon ornament:

1) Start with a twig. We found this one on the ground in our back yard.
2) Use hot glue to attach a piece of yarn or twine to the top of the twig. 
3) Cut and tie strips of scrap ribbon to the twig.

Tips: Cut the strips the same length, tie them to the twig, and THEN cut the ribbons. Also... stiff ribbons work better.

I love this simple and rustic scrap ribbon ornament, don't you? It's the perfect use for all the scrap ribbon you have lying around the house.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

I love Christmas baking, and my boys always enjoy when I make them special holiday cookies. Recently, I picked up some candy eyeballs at the grocery store, and I knew I could turn them into something festive and fun. I made a few modifications to my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe, and today I am sharing the recipe for my delicious and adorable peanut butter reindeer cookies.

To make these sweet cookies, you'll need the following ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
red Smarties
candy eyes


1) In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter, peanut butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.
2) Add baking soda and baking powder, and beat until combined.
3) Add egg and vanilla, and beat again.
4) Stir in flour.
5) Roll spoonfuls of dough into balls, place on a cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated oven (at 375 degrees) for 7-10 minutes.
6) While the cookies are still warm, insert candy eyes, red Smarties, and broken pretzels to create reindeer faces.
7) Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

You can download and print the recipe card by: right-clicking on the picture below, saving it to your computer, and printing it.

Wouldn't these be fun cookies to bake and leave for Santa? Kids will love rolling the dough into balls and inserting the candy and pretzels to make the faces.

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe? I have a couple festive recipes I love (including my make-ahead gingerbread cookies and my simple cut-out butter cookies), but these peanut butter reindeer cookies are definitely being added to my annual holiday baking list!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Skittles Ornament... with free printable tags

I adore cute DIY Christmas ornaments, and these adorable DIY Skittles ornaments are easy and inexpensive to make. I made one for each of my boys, and they love them! They make a cute Christmas ornament, stocking stuffer, Christmas movie night treat, or DIY gift. Below, I am sharing the "how to" details and the FREE printable tags.

To make these sweet DIY Skittles ornaments:

1) Purchase inexpensive plastic ornaments (and make sure the top opening is big enough to allow you to pour Skittles into it).
2) Pour Skittles into the ornament.
3) Use ribbon to attach the "Merry and Bright" tag to the ornament.

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.

This would be a fun and simple craft to do with kids too... though I am pretty sure some of the candies would go missing in the process. ;-)

Do you have candy-loving kids or friends that would enjoy receiving these "Merry and Bright" Skittles ornaments? I think sharing these sweet, easy and inexpensive ornaments is a fantastic way to share some Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Elf on the Shelf Igloo and Scarf

Is your Elf on the Shelf looking for something to do? Try showing him this picture, and maybe he'll build himself an Igloo from an old milk jug and some cotton balls. Fun, right? I'm also sharing some simple instructions for an Elf on the Shelf scarf that you can make from a scrap piece of felt... in less than 20 seconds.

To make the milk jug igloo:

1) Wash an empty milk jug out with soap and water, and dry it completely.
2) Use an X-acto knife to cut an opening in the jug.
3) Use hot glue to attach cotton balls to the jug. Apply the glue to the jug rather than the cotton balls. Trust me... it will work much better.

I think this Elf on the Shelf Igloo is adorable. My youngest even asked if we could keep it after Elfie leaves.

And, if your Elf is going to be spending time in an igloo, you'll need to make him an Elf scarf to keep warm. All you need to do is cut a strip of felt, and cut fringes in each end. It literally takes less than 20 seconds!

Do you think your kids would like to find their Elf on the Shelf in his/her own personal igloo? It's a pretty easy recycling project, and a fun place for an Elf to hide.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Holiday Hostess Gift (with free printable tags)

Christmas always comes with party invites from friends and colleagues, and no one wants to be a guest that arrives empty handed. So, today I sharing a simple gift that is guaranteed to be well received. I'm also including three options for FREE printable tags that you can print and attach to your holiday hostess gift.

I love the idea of attaching a fun tag to your favorite bottle of white wine that says, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas." Cute, right?

This red and white tag is simple and traditional.

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

This blue and white tag is a little different, but equally charming.

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

This chevron tag is a little more modern and less traditional than the other two tags. You can leave it full size, or you can cut it into a square like I did.

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

Don't you love these adorable holiday hostess gift options? I hope you download the free tags I designed and attach them to your favorite bottle of white wine. Enjoy!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: I receive compensation as part of my affiliation with Woodbridge Wines.... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own... and my love for white wine is real.

Teaching Kids about Money

Teaching my boys about money and finances has always been important to me. I feel it my duty as a mother to educate my boys about spending responsibly and saving for what they want. Today, I am sharing some of the ways that I am teaching my children about money. I am also sharing a FREE digital activity book for kids that you are going love.

It's never too late (or too early) to talk about finances. When my boys were very young, I focused on teaching them the physical value of money. In a world of debit and credit cards, I wanted them to understand that money is a tangible thing. We talked about money and sorted it into jars. I wanted them to see what a dollar looked like -- 100 pennies, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, 4 quarters, and a loonie. I also took them to stores to show them what a dollar could buy.

I have also always taken my boys with me to the bank whenever I have had a deposit to make. I wanted my kids to understand that I work for money, I put the money in the bank, and then I take that same money out of the bank with my debit or credit card. I stressed that money is a tangible item that we earn and spend. Debit and credit cards are not magical items that allow us to buy whatever we want.

As my boys got older, I focused on teaching them about wants vs. needs, and the importance of living frugally and saving for what they want. We have an open dialogue about what things cost and how our family spends money. My boys know that we sell items we no longer need and purchase second hand items often, we buy things on sale, and we save for what we want. They also know that eating out is a special treat and that we pack lunches and snacks when we can.

Recently, my boys wanted to purchase a TV for our basement, and I told them that they would need to save for it. We sold some of their old toys, and collected the money in a jar until they had enough. Visually seeing the money collecting in the jar was a fantastic way to teach them about saving for something they wanted.

A wonderful way to open a dialogue about money with your kids is to use books in addition to real life situations. TD Canada has a fun and educational activity book that my 9 year old loved. It is full of wonderful information and games that your kids will enjoy. You can get the digital activity book for free here. You can also learn more about getting financially fit from TD here.

As my kids grow into adulthood, my husband and I will continue to educate our children by giving them an allowance, showing them how to open a bank account, and teaching them the importance of budgeting and living within their means.

Your child's first financial teacher is you. When you teach them is just as important as what you teach them. Start young by fitting lessons into your everyday life. Your kids will learn valuable lessons without even knowing it.

How do you teach your kids financial literacy? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks. Please take a second to leave them in the comments below.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: This post is part of the and TD #FinanciallyFit sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

Birthday Letter to my Oldest Son on his 11th Birthday

In keeping with family tradition, today I am sharing a birthday letter to my oldest son on his 11th birthday. Each year (on my boys' birthdays), I write them letters in an attempt to capture a little bit of their personalities on paper. It's a tradition that is very special to me, and I am happy to have the opportunity to share it with you... my lovely readers. Here is this year's letter to my first born son.

My sweet and kind first born son,

As you are inching toward the teenage years, I am both sad that my little boy is slipping away, and happy to watch the wonderful young man that is emerging before my eyes. You are a kind, hard working, and loving boy, and I am proud to be your mother.

Here are a few reasons that you are the most special 11 year old I have ever met:

  • You have always had a mature soul, but I have noticed that this past year you have really started to get more independent and you have started taking on more responsibilities. I am impressed with the ease with which you are moving into this new stage of your life.
  • You are getting older, but I can still sneak a cuddle during movie night (when none of your friends are there to see).
  • Hockey is your passion. Even though you are young and small, you always work hard, and you play with lots of heart. Dad and I really admire your determination and work ethic.
  • You love playing mini sticks with your brothers, your favorite show is Sports Centre, and collecting and trading Tim Hortons hockey cards has become an obsession.
  • Your brothers continue to be your best buddies. You are always inventing fun games to play together. (I think "fat bat" baseball is your front yard favorite!)
  • You are continuing to practice the guitar, and you love playing. (I am super-impressed with your ability to watch a YouTube video and teach yourself a song.)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches are still your favorite snack... and now you can make them yourself.
  • Your favorite colour is blue, your hockey number is 18, and you dream of playing in the NHL.

Happy birthday, my angelic oldest boy. You may be getting older, but you will always be my baby boy. I love you to the moon and back!


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