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Lunch Box Biscuits (school lunch HACK)

Making 15 school lunches each week makes me crazy, so I am always looking for ways to make my life a little easier. My oldest son isn't a big fan of sandwiches, but he loves homemade biscuits. Today I am sharing my lunch box biscuit recipe and a school lunch HACK that I find really helpful!

Here's the recipe I use...

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cold butter
1 large egg
2/3 cup 2% milk

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3) Use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
4) Whisk the eggs and the milk together in a small bowl.
5) Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir (just until moistened).
6) Move biscuit dough to a well floured surface knead/fold about 15 times. Roll to 3/4-inch thick, and cut with a 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter. You'll end up with a dozen biscuits. (Note: I always roll the dough out on a piece of wax paper for easy clean up.)
7) Place on lightly greased baking sheet or Silpat, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Now, here's my secret shortcut...

I let the biscuits cool completely. Then, I cut them in half, butter them, individually wrap them, and stick them in a freezer bag. I leave them in the freezer, and I just take them out as I need them for lunches. Simple, right?

My oldest son likes to take a biscuit, rolled up (preservative free) ham or organic pepperoni (from the farmer's market), and some yogurt. I add some fruit, and we end up with a lunch that we are both happy with.

Do you have any school lunch HACKS you'd like to share? I can use all the help I can get!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Minute (no-sew) Costumes

Dressing up and imaginative play are important parts of childhood. I love filling my boys' dress up bin with fun costumes, but I don't like to spend a lot of time and money doing it. Today, I am sharing two costumes you can put together in about 5 minutes, and there is no sewing required!

The key to this no-sew mad scientist costume is an oversized white t-shirt. All you need to do is cut a slit up the front of the shirt, and you have a perfect no-sew lab coat. Add some test tubes or pens to the pocket of a plaid shirt, some silly glasses or goggles, and some yellow rubber gloves and you've got a fantastic costume. Crazy hair and black socks add to the look too!

A no-sew explorer costume is one of the easiest costumes you can put together. My son already had a white golf shirt and khaki shorts, so we added a dollar store hat and a pair of binoculars. It is a simple costume that uses stuff you already have lying around the house. You can't beat that!

Seriously.... how cute are my boys? :-)

I love how simple these no-sew costumes are, don't you? They are perfect for a dress up bin or a last minute Halloween costume. Pretty fun, right?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Tissue Paper Turkey

Holiday crafting is always a lot of fun, and today I am sharing a bright and cheerful tissue paper turkey craft. It's easy to make, it uses simple supplies, and it's perfect for Thanksgiving.

To make this adorable turkey craft:

1) Use white glue to cover a paper plate with 1-inch tissue paper squares. Use Fall colors like green, orange, red, and yellow.

2) Use white glue to attach a round head (cut from brown construction paper), two googly eyes, a yellow beak, and a red snood.

3) Cut two feet from a piece of orange construction paper and attach to the paper plate with glue.

This craft is fun to craft, and it makes great holiday decor for Thanksgiving. Hanging it on a window creates a beautiful stained glass effect too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Preschool Theme: Fall

I teach a weekly class of 3 and 4 year olds, and each week we have a fun Preschool theme. Today I am sharing three easy and inexpensive Fall crafts that Preschoolers are guaranteed to love!

To make a beautiful fall tissue paper wreath:

1) Cut the centre out of a paper plate.
2) Cut several one-inch tissue paper squares in lovely fall colors.
3) Have the Preschooler crumple the squares of tissue paper, dip them in white glue, and attach them to the paper plate. Continue until the entire plate is covered.
4) Punch a hole in the top of the wreath, and insert a ribbon for hanging.

To make a simple Cheerios bird feeder:

1) Attach a button to the bottom of a pipe cleaner (to prevent the Cheerios from falling off).
2) Have the Preschooler thread Cheerios onto the pipe cleaner.
3) Make a loop at the top of the pipe cleaner, and hang in a tree for the birds to enjoy.

To make an adorable scarecrow puppet:

1) Print the template that you can find here.* (You can use a photocopier to enlarge it to the desired size.) 
2) Have the Preschooler color the puppet, and use glue to attach two googly eyes.
3) Cut out the puppet.
4) Use tape to attach a dowel or craft stick to the back of the puppet.

Aren't these three Fall crafts totally adorable? I think they are perfect for Preschoolers (and older kids too). What's your favorite thing about Fall?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Please note: East Coast Mommy printables are free for personal, non-commercial use only.  If you are pinning or sharing this post, please share from this page only and not the direct download. Thank you!

Fairy Houses {from dollar store bird houses}

This simple craft is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and a wonderful way to embrace a little childhood magic. Who wouldn't love to make (or find) a delightful fairy house (made from a dollar store bird house)? ... and the best part was what we did with them.

We started with some dollar store bird houses and paint. I set everything up, and my boys came up with their own fairy house designs.

We added "a fairy lives here" signs to the front of the houses with Mod Podge, and sprayed them with outdoor sealer to protect them from the elements.

Then, we secretly placed them in different parts of our town.

Later, we returned to the site where we had placed one of our houses, and we found two new houses (that someone else had made), and some trinkets that people had left behind for the fairies.

My boys had a fantastic afternoon painting their houses and "playing spy" as they secretly tried to place their houses without anyone seeing them. Pretty fun, right?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Movie Party

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I love an easy and inexpensive DIY party. I feel that putting a little time and effort into party details really makes a party feel special. Today I am sharing a few tips for throwing an awesome DIY movie party.

First, it is important to set the stage with a little DIY decor. I made some simple signs using foam core and duct tape, covered a table with a tablecloth that went with the theme of our movie (which was Mighty Ducks), and set out some treats and party favors.

Making guests comfortable is key. We invited out guests to wear PJs and bring pillows and sleeping bags.

A party also needs some fun treats. We made some popcorn, and served treats in little condiment containers. The kids had a fantastic time picking out their favorite goodies at our concession stand.

And, of course, every guest needs to leave a party with a party favor. We had an outdoor movie, so we gave out glow sticks. We also had a "half sleepover" theme, so we gave out poptarts with "breakfast for tomorrow" tags.

A movie theme is perfect for family movie night, a birthday party, or a special night with friends. This is an annual event for us, and my boys and their guests always have a wonderful time. We can't wait to do it again next year!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

7 Tips for Surviving "After School" with Kids

The stress of managing after school snacks, homework, supper, extra curricular activities, and bedtime routines can be enough to send parents to the brink of insanity. September always leaves me feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Today, I am sharing a few tips that I find helpful this time of year.

1) Don't over-schedule your family -- This is tough for me because I have three boys that want to be in everything! However... in order to cope, children and parents need to work together to choose extra curricular activities and a schedule that is manageable.

2) Use a family calendar -- I could not function without the calendar on the inside of my kitchen cupboard. I use it to record everything I need to know about the schedules of everyone in my family – including appointments, gym days, theme days at school, meetings, extra-curricular activities, family birthdays, vacation plans, work deadlines, and more. I would be absolutely lost without the ability to glance at my calendar every morning and see the day’s agenda.

3) Plan weeknight meals -- I like to plan a weeks worth of meals and do most of my shopping on Sunday. I also use my slow cooker, prep meals in the morning, and have things in the freezer for the really busy nights.

4) Pack a bag of healthy snacks and water  -- I like to pack almonds, fruit, cheese strings, sandwiches, and yogurt tubes. Everyone is in better cheer with a full belly, and there is no temptation to grab fast food or over-priced junk out of a vending machine.

5) Use “Ready to Go” bags -- Pack bags containing everything needed for particular activities. For example, after every swimming lesson, I wash my boys’ bathing suits and towels and put them right back into the “swim bag”. This way, I am not scrambling to find things every time we head out the door.

6) Do homework "on the go" -- Packing homework and books is also helpful, especially when children are being dragged to the activities of their siblings. Getting homework done before supper makes life a lot easier.

7) Make sure everyone gets enough sleep -- It is sometimes a struggle, but I try very hard to adhere to strict and consistent bed times. It has been my experience that well rested children are much easier to get along with.

Trying to get back into a routine this time of year can be really tough, but investing time getting organized can really pay off. Do you have any tips for taming the after-school chaos? I can use all the help I can get!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)
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