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THE BEST Cupcakes from a Mix

Impressive and delicious treats don't have to be labour intensive. I just made 36 cupcakes for my 5 year old to take to school, and they were easy to make and everyone loved them. Want to know my secret? I started with store bought cake mixes and icing!

To make the most delicious cupcakes from a mix, I always start with one of my favorite cake mixes. For white cupcakes, I use Duncan Hines Golden Yellow. For chocolate cupcakes, I use Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge. You'll also need:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (cooled slightly)
  • 1 cup water


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Melt 1/2 cup real butter in the microwave, and let it cool slightly.
3) Fill two muffin tins with paper liners.
4) Mix a cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 cup water, and 1/2 cup melted butter using an electric mixer. {I mix the batter on low until it is combined, and then I mix it on high for one minute.}
5) Fill muffin tins with the thick, creamy batter. {I use an ice cream scoop to measure, and one cake mix makes 24 cupcakes.}
6) Cook for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
7) Let cool completely before decorating.

I like to frost my cupcakes with Duncan Hines Buttercream icing (which is the only type of icing my 9 year old will eat). It is delicious, and has a great texture for decorating cupcakes. I use a piping bag and a large star tip to quickly decorate a huge batch of cupcakes.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. I am pretty sure you will agree that these are the yummiest and easiest cupcakes you have ever made.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Shamrock Crafts

Holidays are fun, and perfect for crafting! How cute is this Shamrock headband that my 5 year old made for St. Patrick's Day?

My boys and I recently crafted three different types of Shamrocks. You can find all the fun details over at CBC Parents here.

Check them out and let me know which one is your favorite.


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Leprechaun Bait {with free printable tags}

Every year, my boys build a leprechaun trap in the hopes of catching a leprechaun (and his treasure) on St. Patrick's Day.  It is a fun tradition that my boys like to share with their friends, so each year, we make little packages of leprechaun bait for them to take to school to give to their classmates.

This year, I designed this adorable little tag that you can download for free.  To download the tag: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

Add these tags to little bags of "Lucky Charms" cereal, and you have adorable packages of leprechaun bait.

Aren't these bags of leprechaun bait sweet?  They are fantastic class treats, and they make fun St. Patrick's Day party favors too! 

Good luck catching a leprechaun!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Leprechaun Paper Doll {free template}

I am so excited about today's post.  I designed an adorable leprechaun paper doll, and I am sharing it with you for free! It's an adorable craft, and it's perfect for St.Patrick's Day.

To make your own leprechaun paper doll (with changeable shirts):

1) Download the printable template here, and print it onto white card stock.

2) Cut out all the pieces (being careful not to cut off the "tabs" on the shirts).

3) Decorate the leprechaun and shirts.

3) Tape a popsicle to the back if you want your leprechaun to be a puppet.

That's it!  Isn't this leprechaun paper doll puppet adorable? The fact that you can change the shirts really ups the "cute factor", don't you think?  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Homemade "Instant" Oatmeal

My youngest son likes oatmeal, but I don't like giving him the "just add water" packages, so recently, I have started making this homemade "instant" oatmeal in the microwave.  It literally only takes a couple minutes to make.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1) Mix oats and milk in a bowl, and microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
2) Remove from microwave, add brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir.

That's it!  I cool mine down by adding a little milk, and sometimes I sprinkle a little more brown sugar  or a drizzle of real maple syrup on top, but these are both optional.  

This homemade oatmeal is perfect for busy mornings, and it is a favorite of my 5 year old. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Indoor Snowball Fight

My boys are pretty active, so when the weather keeps us indoors for long periods of time, we need to get creative.  Recently, when the temperature dropped dramatically, we entertained ourselves with an indoor snowball fight.

My boys and I had a fantastic indoor snowball fight with homemade shooters and cotton balls, and you can find all the fun details at CBC Parents here.

How do you keep your little ones entertained when you are stuck indoors?


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Hockey Party Games

Every birthday party needs fun games for the kids to play, so today I am sharing the fantastic DIY hockey party games our party guests played at my son's 9th birthday.

The best part about these games is that they are easy, inexpensive, and really fun.  They are guaranteed to add a special touch to any hockey themed party.

My son really wanted to play floor hockey with his friends, so I used a cardboard tri-fold make an easy and inexpensive scoreboard.  I even used some chalkboard stickers so that they could change the periods and scores with chalk.  The kids had a lot of fun with it.

I also made a "prize punch" using foam core and plastic cups from the dollar store.  The kids were able to choose a cup containing hockey cards, and then they were able to trade them with each other.  You can find the full tutorial for the DIY prize punch here.

Finally, I used a piece of bristol board to make a hockey version of "pin the tail on the donkey".  Our game was called "pin the puck on the ice".  I drew a rink on a piece of bristol board and added a team sticker to centre ice.  Then, I made some black circle "pucks" from a piece of construction paper. 

I believe that DIY elements make a party special, and these DIY hockey party games are easy and inexpensive to put together.  Of course, these games are great for a child's birthday, but they would also be fun at a year end team party, don't you think?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
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