Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Turkey Bum

Submitted by Rachael

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Recipe: Flavorful Fried Onion Chicken

By Lori --

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE French's fried onions. I used to only have french fried onions in green bean casserole, but then I realized there are other ways to incorporate them into meals.

Store brand french fried onions
taste great, too.
Take a look at this extremely simple and flavorful chicken recipe:


  • 2 cups of French's fried onions (the store brand works fine, too)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons flour
  • 4 (5-6 ounce) chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1 egg

Smash up french fried onions and flour in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Move to a flat surface.  Dip the chicken into a beaten egg.  Coat the chicken with the french fried onion crumbs. Place the chicken on a lightly coated baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the chicken is no longer pink.

Fried onion chicken tastes great with green beans, corn, or mashed potatoes. Whip up some Reese's Pieces no-bake cookies and you have a wonderful and easy dessert to follow
Photo credit:
this meal.

French fried onions are located near the green beans in the canned vegetable aisle in the grocery store near me. For variation, you can also find cheddar french fried onions, too. I love this recipe and hope that you do, too. A complete list of French's recipes can be found here.

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 5 and 3 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, reading, decorating, photography, and traveling. Leave her a comment below or email her at

While you are here, you may enjoy the following posts:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Groupon Coupons - Save Money this Holiday Season

By Katie --

**Groupon reached out to me with info on this program and I did some research on my own. All of these opinions are 100% mine**

Just in time for BLACK FRIDAY!

I've written before about not being a huge fan of saving money through traditional couponing. Digital coupons, on the other hand, are another story. I'm a big fan of mobile apps that let me apply discounts on items that I already want to buy at stores I already love.

Which is why I pretty much love the new service Groupon Coupons. This latest, greatest trend in saving money from the local deal behemoth is an entirely free service. It takes the best of what Groupon offers (steep discounts) but applies it to top retailers. Not to name-drop or anything but...Orbitz, Nike, Payless, VistaPrint, Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, Peapod, and more.

Check out a few of the deal pages for these retailers that I perused:

Babies R Us

I've actually always really loved Babies R Us but admit to having some sticker shock while browsing. With these additional discounts though I could certainly be persuaded.  


Travelocity is my favorite travel deal site so I was really happy to find it had a place in the Groupon Coupons platform. Flights, hotels, rental cars -- you name it, and Travelocity has the best deals on it. Add in the Groupon Coupons' savings, and you can really travel for less.

Foot Locker

Running has been called a "poor man's sport" but I've found that it is actually quite expensive. One of the biggest expenses? Replacing running shoes a few times per year. ANY discounts I can get on this (plus sports bras, Gu packets, compression socks, and etc.) are much appreciated. Foot Locker isn't the only sports-minded retailer using Groupon Coupons, but it's one of the biggest so I shared it here.

Before you go out and spend too much on holiday gifts or travel, check out Groupon Coupons first. Head to to see a full list of deals and retailers. If you've used Groupon Coupons before, scroll down to comment about your experience.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Love-Hate Relationship with American Girl

By Rachael

I grew up with American Girl. I received Kirsten, the pioneer doll, for Christmas when I was 8 years old. She now sits on a special shelf in my house, surrounded by various pieces of her collection. My younger sister still has her World War II era doll, Molly. My grandma sewed clothes for our dolls, and we collected accessories over years of birthdays and Christmases. My friends and I used to sit on benches on the playground during recess to read the American Girl catalog to each other. We were among American Girl’s early fans, back when the company was owned by a teacher and only sold dolls with historical stories.

A lot has changed since then.

In 1998, Mattel purchased American Girl. Since then, the company has retired many of its historical dolls (including mine and my sister’s dolls) and pushed modern and look-a-like dolls. With its sales of both American Girl dolls and Barbie dolls, Mattel has a corner on the doll market.

Despite high sales figures, American Girl has managed to disappoint many of its older fans with its gradual sidelining of its historical doll line. The historical dolls and the lessons they taught through books and hands-on toys were what made American Girl unique and somewhat justified the high price tags. The company took away dolls that taught about the “greatest generation,” the American Revolution, or pioneer life and began selling tiny spa play sets and doll hair salon chairs. 

While American Girl still has a large line of historical characters, I understood my mom's disappointment after she looked through a recent catalog. "They used to have page after page of accessories and clothes for each of the historical dolls," she said. "Now they only have about two pages for each character." The historical characters definitely have fewer accessories than they used to.

Also, at the rate American Girl is retiring historical dolls, anyone who purchases one these days has no assurance she will be able to buy accessories to add to that doll's collection over the years; your doll could be put out to pasture at any time.

Dejected fans have taken some of these changes personally, and they look down on the modern dolls, which some people refer to as overpriced, oversized Barbies. To be fair, American Girl wouldn’t hawk this stuff if it didn’t sell. Other writers have pointed out that perhaps we get the “dolls we deserve.”

My husband, who grew up in a family with mostly boys, was initially baffled by the cult-like fanaticism surrounding American Girl and the emotional attachment many fans have. My husband can’t name any toys targeted at boys that have a similar emotional influence; not even Legos, Transformers, or Marvel or DC super heroes. Finally, he compared it to professional football.

I was tempted to walk away from American Girl because it had strayed from its original unique, educational appeal, but now I’m a mother of two girls. My oldest daughter is in elementary school, the prime target age for many of the dolls populating the toy market. She does own a look-alike American Girl doll, a gift from grandparents. She also has her eyes on Josefina, the Hispanic historical doll, who she plans to purchase with Christmas and birthday money from other grandparents. (I've noticed a similar trend among many of my daughter's friends: the grandparents are often the ones purchasing these dolls we otherwise might not be able to afford.) My younger preschool-aged daughter is eyeing American Girl's Bitty Baby collection, the doll line for younger fans. 

Generally, the world of girls’ toys is a jungle. It’s a challenge to navigate big-box stores with aisles of princess bling, bins full of pink trinkets and pink everything, and shelves lined with sexual-looking dolls who look like they stepped out of the movie Mean Girls. Peggy Orenstein's book Cinderella Ate My Daughter looks in depth at these issues, and she also has some thoughts on American Girl, including how expensive the products are.

I started to notice that, while I am disappointed by the way Mattel has jettisoned part of my childhood, American Girl remains one of the better, more wholesome options among girls’ toys. (We are also fans of the slightly controversial Lego Friends, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

What changed things for me was a visit last spring to the American Girl store near our home in suburban St. Louis. We were in the area and stopped in to look. I came away with a few thoughts.

Yes, American Girl has done some things I don’t like: 

- Discontinuing several of the historical dolls.
- Emphasizing the modern and look-alike dolls, whose stories about saving the school arts program or succeeding in dance school are fine but pale in comparison to the historical characters’ stories that addressed child labor, slavery, and cholera outbreaks.

- Adding froofy things like spa sets for dolls. I'm not a girly girl and I don't care for dolls that are excessively girly girl either. 
Still, I feel better about my daughters’ interest in these dolls compared to other toys:  

- American Girl produces quality products. Friends who have purchased knock-off brand dolls from big-box stores have found that the dolls and accessories don’t hold up as well. Off-brand dolls’ hair is easily snarled, and accessories are made more of plastic rather than durable metal or wood. While in the American Girl store, I pushed a doll stroller on display in their Bitty Baby line for younger girls. It had a sturdy metal frame and rubber tires, and it handled like a real stroller. I still pick up cute accessory sets from Target to pair with my daughter’s American Girl doll, but the extra money for the American Girl brand might be well spent if it means the products will last for years. But all within reason. We’re not getting that $500 bakery play set.   

- Despite hefty price tags that place American Girl products solidly within the realm of middle class and upper class family budgets, some of their products remain accessible even to girls whose families can’t afford the dolls. I understand the concerns about promoting values, self esteem, and wholesome toys for girls while engaging in unabashed consumerism. Still, some of their products are available free or low cost. First, there are many books, along with several movies. Our public library stocks nearly all the books, from stories about the historical and modern characters to self-help and nonfiction books for girls, and we’ve picked up dozens of books, and even some magnetic doll play sets, at garage sales. Second, American Girl’s website offers hours of free games and kid-friendly features. Their website has been a nice step up for my daughter from more "babyish" websites like Nick Jr. or Disney Jr. 

- American Girl’s customer service is top notch. Yes, there are stories about people who took an off-brand doll to an American Girl store and employees would not style the hair. It’s gutsy to seek services for an off-brand doll. But if you’re dealing solely with American Girl products, the employees are helpful and friendly and seek to provide a special experience. A few years ago when American Girl announced they were retiring my sister’s doll (grumble, grumble), my sister asked for a few final items to add to her doll’s collection for Christmas. American Girl’s website said a certain outfit was sold out, but I called the company to see if they might have a few left. An employee immediately found the outfit at the Los Angeles store, took my payment and mailing information, and the package was on my front porch within a few business days. We’ve also had pleasant experiences in the American Girl store, where employees have greeted my girls with stickers and free simple craft projects. 

- Most important to me, American Girl remains a wholesome alternative to many other girls’ toys on the market. I do not care for dolls like Monster High, Bratz, or similar dolls who exude attitude and promote negative female stereotypes. These dolls don’t celebrate childhood but rather glamorize the idea of girls acting older in all the wrong ways. I struggle to explain to my daughter why we don’t allow her to own Monster High dolls when many of her peers have them. How do you tell a second grader that a doll is inappropriate because it is overly sexualized? I don't care for the overdone eye makeup and pouty lips, midriff-baring shirts, short skirts, and platform boots. I also don’t want my girls to idealize characters whose primary interests are shopping, primping, and chasing boys.  

Ironically, Monster High and American Girl are both owned by Mattel. But American Girl dolls look like real girls with regular bodies, and no one wears trashy clothes or promotes Mean Girls behavior. American Girl teaches character lessons and self esteem. Its movie dealing with bullying, Chrissa Stands Strong, is especially well done and is so true to life that it can be difficult to watch, in a good way. Chrissa is a great role model, as are all the other American Girls.

So it is best to take American Girl with a grain of salt. It is a corporation with money to make. It is not meant to be a museum dedicated to my childhood. It celebrates girls being girls in positive ways, and I respect that in a toy market that is crowded with less-wholesome products. I've lost some of my childhood sense of enchantment with the company, but it still has my confidence as a mother, if not always the contents of my wallet.

Rachael is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy. She is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing     

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation!   

While you're here, you may enjoy these posts:

How to Save Cash and Give Meaningful Christmas Gifts

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Teaching Kids Gratitude

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

5 Tips for an Aldi Newbie

By Katie --

I don't like couponing. I'm all for saving money but couponing just isn't for me. I tried it for about 6 months after getting married and finally decided the time I was spending was not worth the effort. I realized that I could be working and making more than I was saving by couponing. 

I was also buying things I didn't really need immediately with the promise of saving LATER and it just started to feel very contrived and like it was not a good fit for our family. I know people who have it all digitized and down to a science who will never need to buy another stick of name-brand deodorant again, but for me, it was an exercise in perceived futility.

In lieu of couponing, I started getting better about meal planning and creating family menus based on the items on sale at the stores we really enjoy. It helped. But still. As much as I love going to our neighborhood grocery chain, it's darn expensive to feed a family of 7 and in a somewhat healthy way.

About a year ago, my husband and I started heading to Aldi once every two weeks to load up on the basics of what our family was going to need for meals and snacks. I went into it hoping to stock up on canned goods and cheese, and ended up being pleasantly surprised at the wide array of items we could buy to create meals. 

Since then, we've tried it all: cereal, turkey meatballs, crackers, bread, hot dog buns, watermelon (in season it was AMAZING!), pasta, eggs, spices, cake mix, diapers, and more. There are still some items (like bananas) that I prefer to buy from the chain grocery store closer to our home, but by supplementing at Aldi we have saved anywhere from $200 to $300 (or more) on groceries in any given month. 

If you've been thinking about heading to Aldi for the first time, here are some things to do before you dive in:

Download the Aldi app.

You can peruse the weekly ad and see price drops all on your phone or tablet. The Aldi app can help you with meal planning with its shopping list function and also has a store locator function.

Bring a quarter.

Not two dimes and a nickel. Not a dollar. Not 25 pennies. ONE quarter. You will need this to get a cart, but you will get it back. It sounds annoying but actually makes sense. One way that Aldi saves you all that money is by keeping a pretty small staff. Aldi does not pay people to collect stray shopping carts from the parking lot. By giving people an incentive to bring the cart back to the front of the store on their own (and get that quarter back), it saves everyone money. Want to really make someone's day? Hand them your cart instead of clicking it back in place. You won't miss the 25 cents and they will appreciate the sentiment. (But seriously, don't leave your house without a quarter - it's a pain to try to shop without a cart.)

Bring bags.

Another way Aldi saves you money is by not building in a charge for grocery bags. You have to take your own, cloth or plastic, or pay for them at checkout. I personally prefer cloth bags and take them to all the stores I frequent. Their sturdiness makes them easier to transfer between cart, car, and house, and they stand up in the back of my mini-van better than plastic or paper. Also - if I never see another plastic bag in my garage again, it will be too soon. Taking bags to Aldi doesn't sound hard to remember, but just keep in mind that if you do forget, you will pay (literally). You will also be bagging your own groceries, so build in a little extra time for that.

Take notes.

The layout of our Aldi is different from any other grocery store I've ever been inside and my husband swears there is no logical design to it (I'm sure there is, but we haven't figured it out yet). Thankfully the layout is basically the same from one week to the next, so I'm getting used to finding things. I use the shopping list function in my Cozi mobile app to check off what I need from Aldi, but I took a good old fashioned notebook and a pen my first few visits. I wrote down notes on layout, items I didn't need but may need another visit, and prices. There is a little bit of a learning curve to maximize your Aldi dollar, so don't be afraid to write down things to help you do just that. 

Check out the non-food items.

Aldi actually has a lot of handy and inexpensive items for your home that vary by supply and season. It's worth at least browsing when you are there - or at least looking up what those items currently are on the mobile app before you go. I've found a fun serving tray and some Halloween decorations from that area.

Do you shop at Aldi? What tips would you add?

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Katie Parsons is a mom of five who also writes for websites and publications worldwide. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. Before that, she earned a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant. She is also an independentbrand partner at Nerium International and shares her love for anti-aging skincare with anyone who will listen. 

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation! 

Other posts you may enjoy:

Should you buy a used car seat for baby?

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Start saving for Christmas - today!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Bear Hugs

Submitted by Heather C. --

If you have a photo that you would like to submit to Mumbling Mommy, e-mail it to 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Three Things You Should Know About my Journey with Whole 30

By Heather C. --

From October 1 through October 30, I participated in the Whole 30 challenge. I have been eating clean, whole, nutritional foods for over a year now as part of fighting my fibromyalgia, but a combination of stress and summer break plus a horrible run of luck with an oral surgery left me way off track and feeling miserable. My cousin and his wife completed Whole 30 in August and then a friend did it in September, so finally I said enough was enough and I committed to the program myself.

If you are intrigued about trying this for yourself, I highly encourage reading the book, “It Starts with Food” and thoroughly going over the Whole 30 website. The basics of this eating lifestyle are:
  • No sugar/artificial sweeteners
  • No alcohol
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No dairy
  • Plus an assortment of “how” rules
Over the course of the month, three main things became apparent to me:
  1. Weight loss is not the goal. I am 5’5"ish and 137 pounds. I wear a size 6. I am very, very comfortable in my body. Going into the program, I thought for sure I’d probably lose 5 pounds or so, but on day 30, guess where I was? Up 2 pounds. I also took measurements to see if I lost inches anywhere. My waist went down ¼ inch and my hips/butt went down 1 inch. I’ve known this fact for a bit now but I cannot reiterate more, weight loss is NOT the goal. The book talks about this. The website talks about it. I was still convinced I would go down though because I thought I’d be starving. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
  2. Not everything can be fixed. Whole 30 isn’t exactly a magic pill. It is a great program. It teaches people a lot about food and how it is affecting us as humans, but it is not the only thing you have to do for yourself. Be smart. I don’t always have regular cycles and even though I’ve been doing really well, the month I did Whole 30, my body skipped a period completely. This could be completely by chance, but it is the first time I couldn’t blame my missed period on too many trips to Culver’s.
  3. The rules suck. The rules make sense to me. They really do. The psychological connection we make with food is astounding and the only way to truly beat our cravings and master our health is to be in control of what we eat and not the other way around. But with that said, following the rules was the hardest part for me. I love throwing together a giant blender full of smoothie to have as breakfast on a morning when I don’t feel like eating. (Smoothies are not encouraged because our brains/stomachs don’t always understand drinking our food versus chewing.) I often enjoy a fritter/pancake of sorts for breakfast or dinner with some mashed up squash, some nut flour and eggs. But again, this is against the rules because eating a pancake is eating pancake in our heads no matter how much healthier we make the ingredients. Seriously, your brain will start treating a Larabar as a Snickers if you eat one every time you have a sugar craving. Like I said, the rules make sense but they totally suck.

Overall, I would do Whole 30 again in a heartbeat. I formed a lot of new habits during my month that have lasted with me as I transition off. I enjoy eating in this paleo way and my energy and overall mood are better than ever.

Have you tried the Whole 30 challenge yet? Let me know how it went!

Heather C. works as the Social Media Editor for Mumbling Mommy. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. In her spare time, she is a runner, yogi, reader, and freelance writer. Heather specializes in parenting girls, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

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While you are here, you might also enjoy these posts:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Five Reasons I’m Not Ashamed to be a 30-Year-Old Taylor Swift Fan

By Heather C. --

This month, my best friend and I took a little road trip and had a girls' weekend in order to see Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour. This is the second time we’ve seen Taylor in concert together, the first time being over two years ago for the Red Tour. We proudly told whoever asked where we were going and why we were in town, regardless of our age. In no way are we old, but it is safe to say we are over the average age of her fan base. I am absolutely not ashamed though, and here is why:

  1. Taylor is an incredibly kind person. While I have never met her in person, I have read numerous stories of ways she interacts with fans and staff. She has done and continues to do seriously nice things. A few examples include paying for cancer treatments, donating money toward student loan debt, showing up to bridal showers, baking cookies and inviting fans to her home, and even orchestrating a series of Christmas surprises she self-dubbed as “Swiftmas.” She puts a lot of good karma out in the world. That’s the kind of celebrity I can get behind.
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