Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Homemade Gifts Update

This is actually a post from my personal blog but since we recently finished up the "Homemade Christmas Gifts" segment... I thought it was fitting!

I don't like it when Josh is gone. Yesterday he had to overnight in Twin Falls for work (Highway was shut down at the UT border) and though the girls and I had a fun night together watching Tinkerbell and eating pizza... the house felt empty without him! So, once I got the girls in bed, I decided I would use the time to finish up some last minute Christmas projects that I've been putting off.

First, I needed to find a solution to my little baking strike. (The snow continued its winning streak since my last post!) The lack of time and supplies meant I was going to have to get creative. Let me rephrase that... ATTEMPT to be creative.
Well, here's what I came up with:


A homemade "Movie Night" Kit. The other day I had picked up these little red containers from the dollar store. I gave them a quick paint treatment (using masking tape and white acrylic paint), printed off labels with my scrapbooking program, and edged the container with black ribbon.



In the package was popcorn, hot chocolate, red licorice, candy... and a couple homemade treats: banana bread and Muddy Buddies. I had hoped to be able to print off some vouchers from RedBox to finish it off - but couldn't find a gift certificate link anywhere on their site. Oh well!
I also finished up a set of decoupaged wooden letters for my friend's little boy's nursery in his Chicago Bears theme (I forgot to take a picture but asked her to send me one once she got them up on the walls) and half-finished an embroidered fleece blanket for Dad.
Whew. Well at least I made some good use of my time while he was gone. And I was so tired before I finally went to bed at 2am that I didn't have to worry about lying awake listening for mysterious noises!
Oh, today I also decided to test out my friend Dawn's recipe for "Oreo Truffles"
YUMMM!

Email me for the recipe :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Traditions: Ho Ho Ho

Santa is a favorite around here. Besides all the obvious reasons, he happens to outshine Mommy and Daddy each year in the gift giving area. This year he will be delivering a wood "Play Wonder" Kitchen in pink and white. Kaylee has been begging for a play kitchen for months, so I know it will be a hit (and Jadyn likes to do everything just like big sissy so I'm sure it will be her favorite too!) In the play oven, he'll also be leaving a cute set of stainless steel pots and pans. He always leaves the gifts unwrapped, so they're the first thing the kids see when they wake up. (Hopefully we won't have an early riser who finds it before we get to see her reaction... good thing Josh likes to wake up before everyone else on Christmas morning. No sleeping in at this house!) Santa leaves some fun goodies in the stockings too... with the usual sweets of course, an apple and orange (funny, he does that at my mom's house too!), a few small toys/gifts, and lottery tickets. Yep, I said lottery tickets. Another childhood tradition. Trust me, they're a hit!


Sooo.... what does Santa do at your house? I'm thinking of putting in a few new special requests. :-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Traditions (Help!)

Now that my girls are getting to an age where they can actually understand and enjoy Christmas a little more, I'm really wanting to start introducing some new family traditions. So... I'm hoping you will give me some ideas of what you do (or what you did growing up!)
I'm going to spread this over the next couple days to cover a few different areas. Right now, I'd like to hear about your Christmas Eve traditions. I'm always curious to see if people do gifts the night before or only on Christmas day. Growing up, we always got to choose one gift to open before we went to bed (I think Mom hid our "big" gifts so we wouldn't choose them!) In Josh's family, they always opened pajamas to wear that night, so that's what we have started doing with the girls. This year I found some super cute ones at the Gymboree outlet for $10!
Other than that, we usually just watch a Christmas movie together and Josh reads the Christmas story from the Bible. Kaylee has been asking me for a month if we'll be making cookies and milk for Santa, so I'm sure that will be on the list too!
SO, WHAT IS CHRISTMAS EVE LIKE IN YOUR HOUSE???

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thank you Martha!

Submitted by: Marie M

I found these cute ideas from marthastewart.com. I love to wrap presents almost as much as I love to open them. Nothing says Christmas to me like matching presents under the tree.


This button-stamped gift wrap is fun to make. Affix button to a cork with double-sided tape. Place plain paper on a piece of felt or a folded piece of fabric (this cushions the paper so the mark will be even). Top with a pretty button tied on with baker's twine.

Recycle holiday cards as labels for presents. With a pencil, kids can draw (or stencil) the recipient's initial onto a card, and cut it out. Punch a hole in the letter, and tie to gift with yarn or ribbon.


Happy Wrapping!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Something for the Kids: A Snowman Kit

More from Andrea S!


Use craft foam sheets to cut out eyes, mouth and buttons. Stick pipe cleaners, doubled and twisted, through the middle to attach to snowman.
Nose: buy a styrofoam nose from the craft store, shave it down a bit to make it look more like a carrot, paint orange and spray with clear coat to seal it against the elements.
Scarf: 1/4 yard (I think) of fleece, cut into a strip and frey the ends buy cuttin into 1 x 2 inch strips, then pulling them tight to corkscrew.
Find a hat from the Dollar store or local costume shop clearance section. Poke holes on opposite sides and stick pipe cleaners through.
Put it all together in a bag or box and it's ready for the next snowfall.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homemade Gifts: Scrapbooks

Submitted by: Andrea S.

Another homemade gift I've started doing is a scrapbook of our year for the grandparents. Doing a two page layout for each month, starting in Nov of the previous year, going through Oct. This gives me plenty of time to get it done and is a great way for them to see what we've been up to.









Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homemade Gifts: Treat Boxes

Submitted by: Andrea S
(Whom I consider to be THE Craft Queen!... I'm saving two more of her posts for the next couple days so be sure to check back. And don't forget to give her mad props (a.k.a. blog comments) for her awesome craftiness)
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My favorite thing to do each year is to bake treats and pack them up in fun ways to give to family and friends. This year I'm making two kinds of cookies and putting them into these baker boxes. I bought these online, but they are availabe at craft stores.


  • Measure and cut a piece of printed scrapbook paper to cover the top, attached with photo squares in the corners.
  • Cut a ribbon and attached across the top, I used small glue dots
  • Tie a bow out of the same ribbon and attach.
  • Cut out a star, chalk around the edges and stamp/print/write Merry Christams in the middle.
  • For the star pattern you could use a cookie cutter, I used my Cricut cutter.
  • Attach the star with foam circles to pop it up.
  • I plan to use white cupcake liners to hold my cookies on the inside.
  • Along with this there is a loaf of poppy seed bread, wrapped in foil and pretty yarn, a container with dipped pretzels, and a rice mix that will placed in Christmas bags. You can search out all kinds of different rice, soup, cookie and treat mixes online.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Homemade Christmas: No Sew Fleece Blankets


Last April, I coordinated a community service project with my MOMS Club to make tied fleece blankets for the Ronald McDonald House. (When the children leave the home they like to send them with something to remember their time at the house - and the blankets are one of the favorites!) 15 or so of us got together and we made them at one of our game nights. They were super easy, quick... and turned out so cute! You could make them for babies, kids... even adults. (Who doesn't love a warm fuzzy blanket??)

Materials needed:
Fleece fabric in desired pattern
*2 yards (buy another two yard piece in same or different pattern if making double sided) for teens or adults... will be big!
*1.5 yards for children
* 1/2 to 1 yard for babies
Fabric scissors (or circular rotary blade and mat)
Measuring tape
Pins

Instructions:

1) Lay the two pieces of fleece out of your work surface--one on top of the other and with right sides facing out. (If making double sided.)
2) Pin together, staying at least four inches away from the edge.
3) Cut a four-inch square from each corner (you may want to do 3" cuts if doing a small blanket)
4) Cut four-inch long strips all the way around the blanket, leaving an inch between cuts.
5) Tie the strips from the top piece of fleece to the matching strips from the bottom piece of fleece to create a fringed edge. (If only using one piece, you can just tie each individual piece into a knot.)

Your blanket is now complete!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Festive Faux Ice Blocks

SUBMITTED BY: MARIE M

These blocks are so cute and easy to make. They make a great gift to anyone and everyone. They are so versatile. You can make them say just about anything.

Some cute ideas are:
* ... define good
* Naughty or Nice
* Wise Men Still Seek Him
* Believe
or you can make a Nativity scene.


All you need is:
* a clear security block from Lowe's. (Some have a pre-drilled hole in them where you can put a strand of Christmas lights in.)
* a roll cute ribbon ( I like the wired kind the best.)
* a pre-cut vinyl sticker (we make ours on a cri-cut but you can buy them at joanns or michaels)

You just apply your sticker to the blocks surface, add your ribbon and you're done!



Another cute Christmas gift is to make plates with vinyl sayings as well. You just cut out or stencil what you want to put on the plate and stick it. I like to go to a pottery place and have them glazed so that you can wash them in the dishwasher. But it isn't really a necessity. Or I've also tried buying a clear glass plate and paint the back of the plate with glass paint. Then after I've made my stencil I stick it on with tape and paint the etching paste on top of it. I usually leave it on for a few days and then peel it off. It makes for a really nice effect. You can also use the etching paste to make customized baking dishes. I guess you could give them as Christmas gifts as well. I usually make them as wedding presents. You will never have to worry about someone not returning your dish again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

P.S.

Please leave a comment and let me know...
What's your favorite homemade gift that YOU ever received??

Sorry...

Well, as most of you have noticed... I've been a bit MIA lately! Don't worry, it's nothing traumatic - things have just been crazy busy lately (Xmas shopping, teaching preschool, daughter being sick, training for my new part time job...) Anyway, our next topic will be
HOMEMADE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
So please send me your ideas!! I'm planning on extending this one for two weeks. After that, we'll move on to Holiday Traditions.
HOPE EVERYONE IS ENJOYING THE HOLIDAY SEASON!!
AND SORRY FOR THE LACK OF POSTS!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shopping Update: Toys R Us/Babies R Us Ads Released!

Toys R Us and Babies R Us
just released their Black Friday ads. To see them, click here.
They also have some "Cyber Deals" on Thursday. To see those, go here.
Depending where you live, you may need to change the location.
Hmm maybe I will have to go that way afterall :-)

New Topic! Christmas Shopping (And Where To Find The Best Deals!)

It's one day to T-Day....
which also means 2 days til Black Friday!!
I'm assuming you will all at least be checking out the newspaper for all the great deals (even if you don't want to fight the early morning crowds!) but if you don't want to wait, you can view many retailers' ads online.
Here's a few Black Friday sites:
Many retailers such as Target, and Walmart, have already posted their ads on their site so check those out first!
Another great resource is http://www.slickdeals.net/ - not only does this site list the "hot deals of the day" (yesterday they posted a link to get the Hardbound Twilight Series for $35!) but have additional resources (including message boards) for shopping on Black Friday. There's even a spreadsheet that is sorted by store, price, product etc. To download it, click here.
Some experts saying this is THE year to go shopping on Friday since so many stores are desperate to get people in the doors. I haven't really seen anything that's jumping out at me yet, but that's probably because most of the great deals seem to be on electronics... which is no where on my list. Well, Josh keeps begging for a GPS for his snowmobile... so if you see a good deal on one of those... let me know! :-)
A Few Last Tips:
*Don't forget that many stores also have Black Friday deals online, so if you can't (or don't want) to get out and fight the crowds - wake up early and check out the sites to see what deals are available. For more info click here.
*If you're brave enough to fight the crowds in Walmart, there is one nice plus - most are open 24 hours which means you don't have to wait outside in the cold! (Expect there to be large lines around the popular crates!)
*Stores like Linens N Things are closing and it looks like the have some extra good deals going on! (Just remember - no returns!)
*Divide and conquer! Take a friend and split up your lists so you get to the good deals before they're all gone!
Leave a comment and let me know:
Are you going shopping on Black Friday? And if so, what's your game plan?
What deal(s) are you most excited about?
What item are you most hoping to find a good deal on?
Any suggestions/tips to share with the Mom Ditties readers?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions and Good Eats!

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday in my family... and I'm pretty sure it's my mom's favorite day of all year! In my life, I've spent two Thanksgivings away from my mom (once when we lived in Las Vegas and the other when my mom was down in UT with my Dad's family... Josh, Kaylee and I had Thanksgiving dinner at the Cracker Barrel... I didn't know people actually did that!) My whole family is going to be able to be together again this year... how lucky am I to live in the same town as my parents and siblings?
Over the last few years, my extended family has grown into quite the crowd. Including spouses and children, there are 16 of us all together... quite the houseful! And for us, Thanksgiving is a FULL day's event! The girls used to wake up early and cook together, but now that we have our own families, we typically just each plan a few dishes to make at home then bring it to my mom's house. And in Mom's house, appetizers are as important as the real meal! We typically don't eat until 5:00 or so (I'm learning that's somewhat unusual??) And Mom has been very opposed to do it any earlier! As for dishes, we tend to switch up a few things each year, but there are definitely some constants. Thanksgiving just isn't the same without lots and lots of chips/crackers/dips... especially clam dip (a family tradition!), ham pinwheels, bacon wrapped chestnuts, salami coronets, glazed baby carrots, macaroni salad, potato salad, crescent rolls, around 6 different kinds of pies that everyone is too full to eat anyway, a glass of tomato juice to drink before dinner (per Dad's request), well and of course, a ridiculously large turkey that gets turned into turkey tacos the next day! This year I'll be bringing an appetizer (not sure what yet... any good ideas??), funeral potatoes (thanks Jensa for your amazing recipe) and my sweet husband will be making pumpkin and chocolate pies from scratch... yumm!!
Of course, one of my favorite things to do is spread out all the Black Friday ads and carefully search through them. Josh always works the day after Thanksgiving so I don't usually go... but I still think it's fun to look (come back tomorrow for some info on where to find those ads early!) The guys usually spend most of the day watching football but we tear them away long enough for a few games or karaoke. The kids are just excited to hang out with their cousins all day and play, play, play. Mostly, the day is spent eating (a lot), being together, and realizing all the wonderful things we are grateful for. Nothing too out of the ordinary or creative... but fun all the same!
So, I want to know...
What are you family Thanksgiving traditions?
and
What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
(Feel free to share the recipe!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Need YOUR Ideas For Topics!

I was just getting ready to post a new poll for our next weekly topic, but couldn't decide what to do. So, I'm hoping you will leave me a comment and give me some ideas! What would you like to see as some topic options??
Also:
How often would you like to see a new topic?
How often do you check the Mom Ditties site?
Should I put a new post daily? Every other day?
Any suggestions to make this site better?
As always, you can leave your comments anonymously or under your blog ID.
Thanks everyone! :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stupid Spam Folder...

So, just curious... why is it that my spam folder seems to catch more LEGIT emails than real spam? Urgh. I just happened to look in there today and found an email from a very sweet reader (Amanda B from Nampa) that was sent to me on Thursday with some ideas on our last topic about budget meals. Sorry Amanda, I loved your email and I'm so sorry it took so long to respond!
Anyway, I know the topic is over, but this is such a great idea and I had to share it. Oh, and BTW I love getting emails and new ideas so keep them coming. I promise to check the spam box more often!
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Hi. I've been following your new blog and I love it! I'm a SAHM of an almost 1 year old little girl. I'm always looking for cheap/quick dinner ideas. Last year I was invited to cooking party. Everyone at the party chose and prepared a meal for each person. I left the party with 7 meals to stick in my freezer and use for a later date! Since then I've been addicted to "once a month cooking." I'll take 1 day out of the month - usually a Saturday or Sunday so my husband can take my daughter - and cook like crazy!! A few weeks ago I stored 30 some meals in my freezer. Last night I didn't feel like cooking so I took out a Shepards Pie out of the freezer and it was ready for us to eat at 6:30! :0) This saves me so much money and time! I've purchased 4 cookbooks from Amazon.com for cook and freeze meals, as not all food items will freeze very well. Thanks for taking the time to read my email!
Amanda
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Keeping my Promise (Yes you can still read this blog... even if you haven't seen the movie yet!)

Okay, so since I know there are still lots of people who weren't able (or perhaps dedicated enough?? haha jk) to make it to the Twilight opening, I didn't want to spoil it for them by posting my reaction on here. Instead I posted my thoughts under the comment section. Do you agree, disagree?? Let me know! I'm definitely curious to see what the rest of the world thought.
AND ONCE YOU SEE THE MOVIE, MAKE SURE TO COME BACK AND ADD YOUR THOUGHTS!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Twilight Lovers Unite!

So, if you've read my personal blog, you know that I am unashamedly addicted to Twilight. And of course, wouldn't miss the premiere midnight showing... thankfully I have lots of friends who are also addicted so I won't be braving the teenage-infested theatres on my own. :-)
So I want to know...
Have you given in to the Twilight Saga?
Do you love it as much as me?
Will I see your smiling faces tonight?
Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?
Just a few more hours ladies!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Randomness...

So I had originally planned to do an organization topic this week, but decided to save that until after the Holidays. You know, when we are all attempting to find places for the new overabundance of toys (and learning we already didn't have room for the old ones!)
There really won't be any set topic this week, just whatever happens to come to mind that day, but I'd like to make it more interactive. So leave a comment or two... and remember, you don't have to have a blog and can leave them anonymously!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More budget friendly tips!

When planning out my weekly meal list, I usually try to throw in at least 1 or 2 cheap and easy meals. They're nothing fancy, but the family seems to love them all the same! And thanks to everyone who sent me their ideas... I've added them to the list!
Utilize Your Pantry
1.Chili-mac (one can of chili to one can of mac-n-cheese... we usually double up!)
2. Use lipton soup mixes: golden onion for chicken nuggets and regular for roasted potatoes. (Recipes on box)
3. Shrimp Scampi (buy shrimp scampi in freezer section and add angel hair pasta from the box)
4. Bisquick chicken fingers
5. Cook 1 pkg of Hillshire Farms smoked sausage and add to two prepared boxes Velveeta Shells and cheese (this makes a lot!)
6. Shake N Bake anything!
More Meal Ideas!
1. Tacos (ground beef, chicken) - we buy the taco seasoning in the can rather than individual packages... much cheaper!
2. Spaghetti (you can always add meatballs from the freezer section to jazz it up!)
3. Chicken Quesadillas
4. Po Tuna (Line 9x13 pan w/ Tator tots. In large bowl, mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup with 1 can of milk and 1 large can of tuna fish. Pour milk mixture over tator tots, sprinkle with seasoned salt, add frozen petite peas, then cover casserole w/cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes)
5. Easy pork chops - use canned mushroom soup and seasoned salt (that's all!) and cook in skillet.
6. Nachos - tortilla chips, beans, ground beef, cheese (and extras if you want!)
7. Bacon (real or bacon bits!) omlettes
8. Chicken salad sandwiches
9. Buy a big rottiserie chicken and use for muliple meals - serve as an entree on its own, next night -chicken tacos/quesidillas, if still some left, freeze and use for chicken noodle soup
Yummy Sides
1. Rhodes bread (in freezer section.) They are CHEAP and I promise you... everyone will ask you for the recipe! Tastes homemade!
2. Glazed baby carrots (1 lb carrots, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cube butter) - microwave carrots in bowl w/3 tablespoons butter (covered) for 5 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, then cook 1 min. at a time until at desired tenderness. Add butter and microwave for an additional minute. Add brown sugar and stir. Cook two minutes, stir, and serve.
3. Baked zuchinni
4. Steamed broccoli w/ cheese
5. Mashed potatoes w/ country gravy.
6. Bag of caesar salad mix
7. Ramen noodle salad (someone give me this recipe!)

Mom's Recipes!

Crock Pot Chili
(Makes great leftovers!)

1 lb extra lean stew meat/stir-fry meat/top sirloin, cut into small pieces
(the slow cooker makes the meat tender so buy whatever's on sale)
4 cans (15oz) dark kidney beans (drained)
2 cans (14.5oz) diced tomatoes (don't drain)
1 pkg chili seasoning (or make your own - chili powder, salt, pepper, onion powder and Tabasco)

Mix all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low all day or on high for 4 hours. Doesn't need stirring.

Tip: This makes a lot so you can use the leftovers for chili burritos the next day!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
3-5 lbs beef roast
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
5 potatoes, cut into one inch cubes (optional)
2 large carrots, also cut in small pieces (optional)
Put roast in bottom of crock pot. In small bowl, mix soups together and then spread over roast. If including veggies, add 1/4 cup water. Cover with lid and cook on low all day or on high for at least 4 hours

Sweet & Sour Pork
(I'm typing this just as my mom wrote it out... sorry if it's confusing!)

In small bowl, combine:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar (or white)
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tsp soy sauce

Chop:
1 medium onion cut into quarter-sized pieces
2 medium carrots cut into 1/4 inch circles
1 medium green pepper cut in same size as onion
1 lb boneless pork-loin, cut into 1" cubes

Set aside:
1 can (8oz) pineapple chunks, drained

Place pork in Ziploc bag and add half of the sauce. Make sure sauce covers pork evenly and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat small amount of oil in skillet and add meat. Cook for 3 minutes. Add veggies and saute until pork is no longer pink - about 10 minutes. Add remaining sauce and cook until heated through. Add pineapple and serve!

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Casserole
(recipe can be cut in half)

1 Hillshire Farm smoked sausage cut into small pieces (or use leftover ham!)
6 potatoes, sliced
1 small onion, chopped (optional)
1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese

In large skillet, cook sausage for 5 minutes in a small amount of oil
Add potatoes, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add onion and continue to cook until potatoes are to your liking. Then add cheddar cheese and cook until melted.

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb steak, thinly sliced into small strips
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (can substitute canned mushrooms if needed)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans (15oz) beef gravy
1/4 cup worchestire sauce
1/2 bag wide egg noodles
1/4 cup butter
salt & pepper
Sour cream

Prepare egg noodles according to package
In skillet, cook butter, onion and mushrooms. Add steak and cook on high until steak is brown on both sides. Add gravy, garlic, worchestire sauce, salt, and pepper. Cooked until warmed through. Add noodles, sour cream and serve.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Few Of My Favorites From Kraftfoods.com

Okay, so I think I'm probably veering away from the whole budget-friendly thing with these recipes, but they're good! :-) I'm actually realizing that most of my cheap meal ideas tend to come from a box (yup, I said it) and that's not really so inspiring! But... tomorrow I will be including some good tips I've received over the last couple days on how to put your pantry to good use! So if you don't have a gag reflex when you hear the words "mac n cheese" or "Hamburger Helper" - stay tuned.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite dinners from kraftfoods.com (My first stop for easy, quick, and affordable meals. Geesh, they should pay me for such nice advertising! haha) :-)


Chicken Parmesan Bundles

4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained (optional)
1-1/4 cups KRAFT Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese, divided
6 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lb.), pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
1 egg
10 RITZ Crackers, crushed (about 1/2 cup)
1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, heated
PREHEAT oven to 375ºF. Mix cream cheese, spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 3 Tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese until well blended; spread evenly onto chicken breasts. Starting at one of the short ends of each breast, roll up chicken tightly. Secure with wooden toothpicks, if desired. Set aside.
BEAT egg in shallow bowl or pie plate. Mix remaining 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese and the cracker crumbs in separate shallow bowl or pie plate. Dip chicken bundles in egg, then roll in crumb mixture. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
BAKE 30 min. or until chicken is cooked through (165ºF). Remove and discard toothpicks, if using. Serve topped with the spaghetti sauce and remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.


Spicy Chicken Stir Fry w/Capellini Pasta

8 oz. angel hair pasta (capellini), uncooked
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup KRAFT Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. each: ground ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper
1/3 cup chopped PLANTERS Dry Roasted Peanuts
COOK pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 3 min. of the pasta cooking time.
MEANWHILE, spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 to 8 min. or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Stir in dressing, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper; cook 1 min., stirring occasionally. DRAIN pasta mixture; place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture; mix lightly. Spoon evenly into four serving bowls; sprinkle with the peanuts.

Creamy Chicken In Pan Sauce
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. oil
3/4 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Make It
COAT chicken with flour. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 to 6 min. on each side or until cooked through (165°F). Remove chicken from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet. Cover chicken to keep warm.
ADD broth to skillet; stir to scrape up browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add cream cheese; cook 2 to 3 min. or until cream cheese is melted and sauce starts to thicken, stirring constantly with wire whisk.
RETURN chicken to skillet; turn over to coat both sides of chicken with sauce. Cook 2 min. or until chicken is heated through. Sprinkle with parsley.

Homemade Mac N Cheese
(Add sausage to make it a meal!)
1 pkg. (16 oz.) elbow macaroni, uncooked
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 egg
2-1/2 cups milk
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut up, divided
2 cups KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
paprika

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cook macaroni as directed on pkg. Meanwhile, cut butter into small pieces; place in bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish.
BEAT egg and milk with wire whisk until well blended; set aside. Drain macaroni. Spoon half of the macaroni over butter in baking dish; sprinkle with 1 cup each of the VELVEETA and Cheddar cheese. Add half of the egg mixture. Repeat layers of macaroni, VELVEETA, Cheddar cheese and egg mixture. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
BAKE 15 min. Remove from oven; stir until well blended. Bake an additional 15 min. or macaroni mixture is until heated through and top is golden brown.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

SUBMITTED BY: DAWN C

Ranch Chicken
4 chicken breasts, pounded
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 packet Ranch Dressing mix
1/2 - 1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup crushed cornflakes
Mix dry ingredients together in shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg base then coat with dry mixture. Put in baking dish and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Fried Noodles
1/2 - 3/4 bag of Extra Wide Egg Noodles4 TB butter
Boil noodles until tender, drain. In a skillet or griddle, use butter and coat pan, add noodles, cook until light brown and crunchy. Add salt to taste.

AND THE WINNER IS....

AUGUST M
CONGRATS!! I'LL EMAIL YOU TO GET YOUR ADDRESS TO SEND YOU YOUR PRIZE :-)
Thanks for entering everyone. I've already gotten a couple inquiries for prize donations and hopefully we'll get some more soon... so keep your eye out for the next contest!

I NEED A WINNER...

So I had just planned to pick a name out of a hat for the Baskin Robins giveaway, but to make it more fun, I've decided to get you involved. I've written all the names down in random order and numbered them. Now I just need someone to pick a # between 1 and 25. That's pretty good odds, right? :-)
First person to leave a comment (you can do it anonymously just in case you pick your own number! haha)

New Recipe Post :-)

SUBMITTED BY: JENSA A

CHEDDAR CHEESE CASSEROLE

1 lb. ground beef
¼ cup chopped onions
1 pkg. bow tie noodles
1 can tomato soup (condensed)
1 can cheddar cheese soup (condensed)
1 soup can of water
8 oz. sour cream
½ tsp oregano
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
salt and pepper

Cook hamburger with onions. Cook noodles according to package directions. Mix condensed soups in a bowl. Add sour cream, oregano, ½ cup cheese, and water. Salt and pepper to taste. Add noodles and meat to soup mixture. Put in 9X13 casserole dish. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI

(Time: 1-2 hours)

4 eggs
3½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 butternut squash
1½ tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2-3 dashes cinnamon
sugar and salt to taste

Add 3½ cups flour to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour.
Break 4 large eggs into the well.
Using a fork, beat the eggs, gradually incorporating flour into the egg mixture. A large mass of dough will slowly start to form, with lots of little straggly bits of dough floating around in the bowl as well. Once the dough is dry enough to handle, gather it up in the bowl, using your hand and knead into a nice, round ball.
Turn the ball of dough onto a floured surface, and knead well (at least 5 min.) until the dough feels smooth and elastic. If the dough seems too dry, add a few drops of water; too wet, add a little more flour. Return the ball of dough to the bowl, and cover with a floured piece of saran wrap. Let it rest for at least a half hour.
Cook the butternut squash: slice the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds. Place both halves cut-face down in 1/4" of water, in a large roasting pan. Bake at 375F for 40 minutes or until tender.
Scoop out the cooked squash and mash well using a fork or potato masher. Add butter, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sprinkle salt and sugar to taste. Let cool. Refrigerate for up to a day, or use immediately.
Fill the ravioli and seal edges together.
Cook in boiling water for 5-7 minutes (exact cooking time will vary, depending upon how large/thick you've made your ravioli). Toss with butter and pepper; sprinkle with parmesan and serve. (Serves 4-6)

GARLIC CHICKEN ALFREDO

1 pint heavy cream (or half and half)
1 stick butter
2 TB cream cheese
½-¾ cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper
2 garlic chicken breasts (marinated frozen pack)
pasta bowties
In saucepan, melt butter, cream, and cream cheese. Simmer until melted. Add parmesan cheese and garlic. Let simmer 15-20 minutes on low. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Slice chicken into strips and brown in separate saucepan. Cook bowties or pasta of choice. Mix alfredo mixture, chicken, and pasta together. Serve and enjoy!

BBQ MEATCUPS

1 lb ground beef (browned and drained)
1 tube Pilsbury Grands Biscuits
½ cup catsup
½ cup BBQ sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
3 TBS dried onion
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 TBS relish (optional)
cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease muffin pan and flatten dough from biscuits into the pan. Put hamburger in bowl, mix in remaining ingredients except cheese. Fill dough with meat mixture. Bake 8 minutes. Top with cheese and bake another 5 min.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas and Spinach Chicken Salad

SUBMITTED BY: AUGUST M

YUMMY Chicken Enchiladas

*2 chicken breasts (boiled then shredded)
*1 can cream of chicken soup
*1-cup sour cream
*1 small can of diced green chilies
*1/2 onion diced
*1/2 - 1 lb shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients. Roll into tortillas. Bake in glass pan at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes
*optional- add diced olives
*optional- cover enchiladas with extra cheese 5 minutes before removing from oven

Best EVER Salad

*1 bag of spinach leaves
*1 bag of Fisher Brand sliced Almonds
*1 bag of Craisins
*1 small tub Fetta Cheese (or shredded cheddar)
*1 bottle (Ken's Steak House Brand) Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette (we like to use Ranch too)
*1 Rotisserie Chicken (remove meat)

Layer spinach, chicken, cheese, dressing, almonds, craisins. Enjoy most texturally satisfying salad you have ever had!
*Disclaimer- You should know that we ate this 4 times a week for 3 weeks straight after I discovered it. Seriously. Still not bored with it. We are going to try it with shrimp this week. Let you know how that goes!

Friday, November 14, 2008

BASKIN ROBINS GIVEAWAY ENDS TOMORROW!

Are you signed up to win the $10 gift certificate from Baskin Robins??

Here's how:
1) Spread the word! Post an entry on your blog, send out an email, post a bulletin on your myspace... whatever! The more moms we have the more ideas you'll see on the site.
2) Leave a comment on any of the blog posts. (Or better yet, be a guest blogger!)
3) Send me an email to momditties@yahoo.com with your name and the best way to get a hold of you if you win!
That's it! Contest ends NOVEMBER 15th - you have until midnight to enter. One name will be randomly drawn for our winner.
Oh, and BTW, don't forget to sign up as a follower on the sidebar so you can keep up-to-date on the latest posts!
P.S. Do you have a business selling kid/baby/mom products?? If you would like to donate a prize for our giveaway, please let me know. You will get your business info on the sidebar for the duration of the contest. (Can't beat free advertising!)

Dinners On A Budget:A Few Classics

OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN
(From the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook)
This is an old stand by for when we have last minute guests. It's very inexpensive (I can usually buy a whole chicken fryer for around $6), feeds a lot of people, and is super easy! Serve it with some mashed potatoes, a salad, maybe even corn on the cob or a loaf of Rhodes bread (everyone will think this bread is homemade!)
Prep: 10 minutes (if that)
Bake: 1 hour
6 servings
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 to 3 1/2 pound cut-up broiler-fryer chicken
1.Heat oven to 425. While oven is preheating, melt the butter in the bottom of a 13x9x2" pan.
2.Mix flour, paprika, salt, pepper in ziplock bag. (I sometimes double this mixture just to make sure all the chicken gets coated well.) Place chicken, skin side down, in pan.
3. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Turn chicken, bake 30 minutes longer or until breasts are no longer pink.
Variation:
To make crunchy, substitute 1 cup cornflake crumbs for the 1/2 cup flour. Dip chicken into 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted, before coating with crumb mixture.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meals on a Budget Post 1

Submitted by: Angel M

One Pan Taco Dinner
1 lb. hamburger
1pkg. Taco bell taco seasoning
2c. uncooked Minute Rice
1c. shredded mild cheese
2c. shredded lettuce
chopped tomato
Brown meat and drain, add 2c water & seasoning- bring to a boil, stir in rice, sprinkle with cheese & cover. Cook on low for 5 minutes.
Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and other favorite taco fixings.

Teriyaki Chicken with Rice & Broccoli1-
1 1/2 lb. cubed chicken breast
1T. oil 1/2c. diced onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1c. Yoshida's Teriyaki sauce(or your favorite)
Saute onion and garlic in oil, then add chicken, season with salt & pepper and cook thru. Add teriyaki sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve with cooked rice and steamed broccoli ( or your favorite veggies).

Cookies of Your Choice
1 box of cake mix (any flavor you want)
1 egg
1/2c. oil
Combine above ingredients and add your favorite chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit.
Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
These are literally cookies of your choice, be creative, and experiment. These cookies are unbelievably moist- ENJOY!

Topic #4: Dinners on a BUDGET!

One of my favorite presents that my mom ever gave me was this big binder of recipes from our childhood. Back then, money was very tight and there were a lot of mouths to feed (she's always joked that she should write a book on how to feed a family of 6 for under $10!) so she always found ways to keep food costs down without sacrificing flavor.

That mentality kind of stuck with me as an adult and love finding inexpensive (yet yummy!) new dinners to add to our meal list. My husband and I are both big fans of eating out (very budget-unfriendly!) but if I sit down and make out a dinner list for the week and keep it on my fridge, I'm much more likely to stick to it.

Over the next week, I'll be adding a few of my favorite recipes from my mom, as well as some new ones I've come across in the last few years. I'm also hoping many of you will share your favorites! Please email your recipes to: momditties@yahoo.com. Make sure to include the source, if necessary. Pictures are by no means required (I need to remember to take pictures of my meals and add them!) but are a great plus. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Send Me Your Recipes!

First, sorry for the minimal posts this week... I went on a Girls Getaway to Seattle this weekend with my mom and sisters. Yay for interruption-free shopping!
It looks like our next topic is going to be "Dinners On A Budget" so please email me your recipes:
Posting will start tomorrow and end next Tuesday.
Thanks everyone!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Creative Playdates: Little Chefs

Submitted by Jensa A
(This was one of our favorite memories in playgroup!)
Recipes and pictures from our "Cooking Day" playgroup:

Tortilla Cookies
□ Tortilla
□ Melted butter
□ Cinnamon/sugar sprinkler
□ Cookie cutters
Cut tortilla into fun shapes and then brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and place in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes.


Ham / cheese roll ups
□ white bread
□ rolling pin
□ sandwich ham
□ string cheese
□ toothpicks
□ honey mustard dressing
Roll bread flat. Lay a piece of thin sliced ham on top then a piece of string cheese. Roll up and cut into several bite sizedpinwheels. Use toothpick to hold pinwheels together and dip in honey mustard. (2/3 cup mayo, 1/4 cup honey, 2 TB dijon mustard, pinch paprika and salt)

English Muffin pizzas
□ 4 English muffins, split
□ 1 can (8 ounces) pizza sauce
□ 1 cup part-skim mozarella cheese, shredded
□ assorted pizza toppings, optional
Lightly toast muffins. Spread one generous tablespoon of pizza sauce on each muffin half. Sprinkle with cheese; top with your favorite pizza topping (green pepper, mushrooms, pepperoni, etc.). Bake muffin pizza in a 400 degree oven until cheese melts, about 6 minutes.

Fruit Pizza
□ 1 tube sugar cookies (or you could use brownies)
□ 1 container strawberry cream cheese
□ 1/3 cup powdered sugar
□ fresh fruit in season (kiwi, berries, bananas, etc.)
□ chopped nuts (almonds are SOOO yummy)
□ chocolate sauce (optional)
Prepare cookies. Let cool. In small bowl, mix strawberry flavored cream cheese with enough powdered sugar to make it creamy. Spread over cooled cookie. Top with sliced fruits. Sprinkle nuts and drizzle chocolate sauce over if desired. Best if eaten in 2-3 days.

The girls had so much fun and have asked for these snacks ever since! Yumm!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creative Playdates: Pajama Party

About a year ago, my friend Jenny from MOMS Club hosted a super fun event for our club at her house... a pajama party! Everyone (including the moms) came in their pjs (around 9am if I remember right), then Jenny had some cute breakfast foods ready for everyone. The moms drank hot chocolate/coffee while the kids played. It was a blast! And the kids seemed to enjoy showing off their PJs.
Here are a few more ideas that you can include in your pajama party playdate:
*A pajama parade
*Have each child bring a favorite bear or blanket
*Parent/Child pillowcase races
*Storytime on blankets
(There are a few different "Pajama Party" books available if you want to keep with the theme.)
*Have the kids put together fruit skewers
*Any type of craft!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Creative Playdates: Gettin' Crafty

Don't want to referee over a favorite toy during your playgroup? Keep those little hands busy with a kid-friendly craft. There are TONS of ideas out there - so do a little Internet searching to come up with something that will work for your group.

Craft #1: Paper Doll Friends


Here's a little craft that I did with our Joy School group. I used the outlines on About.com as a guide then traced my own pattern onto construction paper for the bodies, outfits, hats, and hair. Our lesson was on friendship, so they each picked a friend to use as the second doll holding their hand. The girls colored the shoes and hats, then picked which dresses and hair they wanted. They LOVED it! The site has plenty of outfits for little boys too.

Craft #2: Edible Play Dough
Who says you can't play with your food? Here's a homemade Play Dough recipe from allrecipes.com :

INGREDIENTS
3 1/2 cups peanut butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 cups honey
4 cups dry milk powder

DIRECTIONS
In large bowl, cream together peanut butter and confectioners' sugar, then beat in honey and fold in milk powder. Divide into 15 equal portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Craft #3: Crayon Nibbles


Have broken crayons in your kids' art drawer and don't know what to do with them?

Here's a cute idea from craftydaisies.com:

What you’ll need:
*Crayons
*mini muffin pan (one that you don’t mind getting a little crayon on)
Preheat your oven to 265 degrees F. Peel off all the paper from the crayons and break them into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Arrange two to three like colors in each slot, then bake for 6-8 minutes. Let them congeal a little on the counter, then place them in the freezer until they are firm (approx. 30 minutes). They should then pop right out.
This is great for little hands that aren’t steady enough to hold thin crayons!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coming Up... Creative Playdate Ideas!

Starting tomorrow, we'll start our series on creative playdates... so send me in your ideas! You can email your guest blog to momditties@yahoo.com. Please make sure to include at least one picture and directions, if needed. We already have some super cute ideas on the way! Oh, and don't forget to vote for our next topics (it is voting day afterall)... looks like a close one again!
~Malissa

Monday, November 3, 2008

Products Moms Love: All Things Crafty

Submitted By: Andrea S

1) Xyron sticker makers: awesome
for seamless
scrapbooking/
card making


2) Photo squares and corners
3) Sticky back felt and foam sheets

4) Paper stacks
by DCWV






5) Crop-a-Dile
paper punch and eyelet setter

6) Cricut cutter
and cartridges



7) Creative Memories straight
and wavy paper trimmers





I have so much stuff it's hard to narrow down, but these are things I grab at every time I have a crafty project going!

~Andrea

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Products We Love And Hate: Beauty

I'm a bit fickle when it comes to makeup. I don't think it's really a matter of getting bored, I just always seem to have this urge to try something new. In fact, I just bought 3 new makeup cases last week to store my most recent supply. (Speaking of which, I included some info on when to throw stuff out in case you were wondering!) Anyway, I've included a couple of my fave products... some are newbies and the other standbys. Don't forget to leave a comment and let me know what you love. Afterall, I might have another urge to expand my collection.... :-)
1) Merle Norman "Luxiva" Ultra Powder Foundation - Though I'm a big fan of mineral foundation, this is the best I've found for pressed powder. It covers well and feels light on your skin, which is super important for me. I don't like to feel like I'm wearing makeup! This is a little more than I like to spend (around $28 if I remember right) but I usually splurge on it around birthday time. I use my Kabuki brush for a more sheer coverage, or you can use the sponge for maximum coverage. http://www.merlenorman.com/

2) e.l.f. (eyeslipsface.com) - Good makeup for $1?? Believe it people. I had this site recommended to me by a couple friends and of course, had to see what the fuss was about. My first order totalled about $45 - which buys you a whole lot of $1 makeup! I tried just about every lip gloss, some eyeshadow, eyeliner, brushes... the works. My faves were the Super Glossy Lip Shine SPF 15. Lots of colors to choose from. I wasn't crazy about the other hypershine gloss... had a weird taste to it. Their brushes are also great! I recently ordered their mineral makeup ($5 per container... 50% off right now)... still not quite as wonderful as the super spendy stuff, but still great coverage. And seriously, can you beat it for 1/5 of the price? I also got some super cute makeup cases for 75% off. Sweeet! (Sign up for their email list... I get coupons all the time!) http://www.eyeslipsface.com/

3) Bath and Body Works Holiday Beauty Queen Wave™ Moisturizing Gel Gloves - Okay, so this is actually the new kind, which I haven't tried yet - but last year's were fabulous! My skin gets ultra-dry during the winter months (not helped by my OCD handwashing mind you) and these little ditties made a huge difference. The kind I got were one time use, with two pairs per package, so I love that these new ones are reusable. They are infused with natural oils and vitamin E and can be worn for 20 minutes or all night. Save your pennies for this one... $25 for a pair. http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/
P.S. Anyone know a comprable product for cheaper?

4. Biolage Shielding Mist - Tames frizz and makes hair shimmer. Is also supposed to preserve color - but I've always used it for a finishing touch after styling. Oh, and did I mention it smells soo good? I've tried to find cheaper alternatives, but they're just not quite the same. $12.99 for a 4.2oz bottle. http://www.biolage.com/

I'd love to hear which products you swear by! Any good suggestions for skin care? I still haven't found anything I love!

Yummmm

Okay, so apparently I was too busy raiding the Halloween Treat Bucket and baking cookies for Josh's birthday party with my family today (seriously, birthdays seem to last a week around here!) to realize that I was supposed to do a post on "all things edible" yesterday. Well, in truth, I have a serious love for food and would have had a very difficult time narrowing it down anyway. Sooo to make up for it, I'm going to pass on this uber-yummy chocolate brownie cookie recipe that so sweetly obliged my chocolate addiction. Oh, and it's super easy! It's from my usual source: kraftfoods.com. (And if you've never checked their site out before - they have the BEST recipes for dinner too!)
Mmm this may have to become a new staple cookie around here!


Chocolate Brownie Cookies

6 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups toasted chopped PLANTERS Pecans (I used walnuts!)



PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Microwave chocolates and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add sugar; mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix until well blended. Stir in pecans.
DROP rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets.
BAKE 12 min. or until cookies feel set to the touch. Cool 1 min.; remove from baking sheet. to wire racks. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Products We Love And Hate: Baby/Kid Products #2

Submitted by: Angel M
My Top 4 Faves:

1. Kirkland Baby Wipes- They aren’t just for diaper changes. I keep a pack in the kitchen for cleaning hands and faces after meals, in the car for quick dusting while sitting in traffic and wiping up after ‘spill-proof’ sippee cups. You can’t beat the price for this Multi Purpose wipe.
2. Wipable changing pad- It’s so nice to have one in your diaper to ensure a clean surface to change your baby. You never know what was on that changing table last.
3. Bare Naked Boppy Pillow- I loved
the versatility of this pillow. I wish I had one for my first baby. It was great for breast feeding, helping a little one with tummy time, and a nice support for a little one learning to sit up on her own.
4. Car seat protector- These are a must have to protect your seats. The helps prevent the marking left from carseats and catch all the undescribable things that fall under them. They also keep the carseats in place and have easy access pockets for storing toys in the car.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR POST ANGEL!