Thoughtful Links I Love

Links I Love

Some weeks, it is the recipes I discover online that excite me. Other weeks, I am challenged by the encouragement I find online. Here’s a collection of some of the most recent thoughtful links I found. I hope some of them speak to you, too!

Jesenia of the Latina Homemaker shared how being too busy can cost you money. I’ve been there and done this. It’s a great reminder to remember that our time can indeed cost us money.

I loved this guest post at Living Well, Spending Less about 3 ways to let go of Mom guilt. It’s an article that all Moms should read.

Lisa-Jo had another marvelous post as she reminded us there’s no such thing as perfect people or perfect hospitality. Let’s open the door just the way we are.

Along similar lines, Crystal encouraged us to stop photo shopping our lives. It’s important to live and be real. There’s a time and place to worry about the messes of life.

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy talked about how sometimes we simply need to show up. It’s true. There are times when the casseroles and plans don’t matter and we just need to be there. Remember this.

Ruth told her story and how we can minister when there is a miscarriage. It’s honest and written with compassion.

Andrea shared her thoughts on intentional free time…and why she doesn’t sleep when the baby sleeps. Whether you have a baby or not, we can all be intentional with our time.

Tim shared 5 changes he’d make if he could parent again. As someone who is passionate about growing leaders, I appreciated his insights.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking a lot about letting down pretenses and parenting. Which one of these links made you think the most?

Mars “Big Night In” Instant Win Game

Mars Big Night In Instant Win

It’s another easy instant win game for you to play! Enter the Mars “Big Night In” instant win game to win one of 1 million prizes. Prizes include free Mars chocolate (which I already won), Uno card games, and more. You can enter daily now through April 15th. You can win up 5 times! You can enter via the link above or by texting FAMILY FUN to 87654. Again, let me know if and what you win!

Snow Day Links and Ideas

Ideas and Links for a Snow Day - Here's some great ideas for you and your children on the next snow day!

Yay for the surprise delight of snow days! I absolutely love them. When we have a snow day, I do most of the things on this list. Hot chocolate is a snow day necessity and cherry limeade slushes made from snow are a delicious snow day treat!

All Free Kids Crafts created a (free) printable snow day bingo with both outdoor and indoor activities for kids to do. With ideas like build a snowman, read a book and draw a picture, I love this creative way to give children fun choices on a snow day!

Growing a Jeweled Rose had several creative snow day ideas. I especially liked her recipe for Kool-aid snow paint….if you don’t mind your beautiful white snow getting colored! Her twist on making a snow volcano is simple and a nice mini-science lesson that kids will enjoy.

Sugar Aunts shared an idea for little ones that is so easy it’s brilliant! They brought out some of their shapes from a sorter toy and created patterns in the snow! Patterns are such an important early childhood concept so I really love this idea.

I’m sure you’ve seen recipes for snow ice cream floating around, but have you made it? This snow ice cream recipe from Bitz and Giggles is this recipe I use. I keep sweetened condensed milk in my pantry just for this reason!

One of these snow falls, I’m going to make maple snow candy just like Laura Ingalls did in Little house in the Big Woods. I was always so intrigued by that. Creekside Learning shows how easy it is with directions for maple sugar snow candy found here.

I’m adding some of these to my snow day list! What do you like to do on snow days (provided you are fortunate enough to receive them)?

Pampers: 10 New Points

Pampers Rewards

Here’s another 10 points for your Pampers Gifts to Grow account. Enter the code FB999CNEKJRKN14 and the points will be added to your account. If you don’t collect Pampers codes yet, start saving the free ones I share to earn free gift cards and rewards. You can join Pampers here.

20 Free Valentine Printables

20 Free Valentine's Day Printables - Looking for quick and festive decor Print and frame some of these cute printables for Valentine's Day!

Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly. I appreciate the diversion this one day brings during the middle of a cold winter. My snowmen decorations are still up but every year, I think how I’d like to add some Valentine’s decorations in February. I haven’t done much yet but I have printed and framed some Valentine’s Day prints!

There are so many cute – and free – Valentine’s prints available online. I am thankful to all the amazing designers who generously share them with us! I love printables because it is a quick and easy way to add some festive decor to our home – even at the last moment. As I was thinking about which ones I wanted to print for Valentine’s Day, I decided to compile a list to share some of my favorite Valentine’s Day finds with you. All of these are available for free in either a 5×7 or 8×10 format. Some are in pdf and some are in jpg, but I noted them below. Take a look at the pictures and follow the numbered link below to download your favorites!

I framed the “I Heart U” (number 7) last year and the “Love is Spoken Here” (number 14) the year before. This year, I think I want to print the “So in Love” (number 12) or the “Heart of Aarows” (number 4). Maybe I’ll print both! Which ones are your favorites?

20 Free Valentine's Day Printables for Quick & Easy Valentine's Decor

1. Pizzazzerie – 5 Mix and Match Prints (pdf)

2. How to Nest for Less – You are My One and Only (jpg)

3. Cupcake Diaries – All You Need is Love Chalkboard Print (jpg)

4. Lemon Jitters – Heart of Arrows in 4 Colors (jpg)

5. Decorate My Life – We Love Because He First Loved Us (pdf)

6. The 36th Avenue – You Are My Sunshine (jpg)

7. Oopsey Daisy – I Heart You in Many Colors (jpg)

8. I Heart Naptime – Be Mine Sweetheart (jpg)

9. Sprik Space – Be Mine Hearts (jpg)

10. Sprik Space – Love Diagonal (jpg)

11. Sprik Space – Love More (jpg)

12. Sprik Space – So in Love (jpg)

13. Sprik Space – You’ve Got My Heart on a String (jpg)

14. Sprik Space – Love is Spoken Here (jpg)

15. Sprik Space – All You Need is Love (jpg)

16. Love from the Oven – Gold Love Heart (pdf)

17. Bonjour Blog – Valentine’s Day Subway Print (jpg)

18. Eighteen 25 – A True Love Story Never Ends (jpg)

19. At the Picket Fence – You + Me (pdf)

20. Landee See, Landee Do – I Heart You (jpg)

Valentine Links I Love

Valentine's Day Links

Today is already the last day of January and the start of February tomorrow means I’m thinking of Valentine’s Day! Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but there is much about the one day that I enjoy. We don’t do much in our house but I still enjoy the day. Some of my favorite ideas?

My long distance hug is particularly popular around this time of year. I made it with my preschoolers and their parents and grandparents enjoyed the simple gift.

If you’re looking for food inspiration, look no further than my red and pink themed food list. It’s a fun way to make the meals of Valentine’s Day special for your children.

Two Peas & Their Pod shared a simple but festive recipe for chocolate shortbread dipped in chocolate with pink and red sprinkles. Delicious and cute!

I think Brenda did it again at the Farmgirl Dabbles. She shared her recipe for cream wafer sandwiches with strawberry buttercream frosting. It’s a surprisingly simple recipe that I’d like to try.

For an even simpler recipe that all kids are sure to love, Lauren shared the idea for homemade slice and bake cookies – with hearts in the middle. What a great idea! I will definitely be making these cookies when Nathan’s a bit older to appreciate them.

I liked the idea to wrap pillar candles in burlap and hearts that At Home in the Northwest shared. I could do this! I love ideas like that.

Another simple idea that I like is this easy glitter heart bunting that Alison of Pint-Sized Treasures made. This would look so cute on a mantel or back and forth across a door.

What special things do you do in your family for Valentine’s Day?

Links I Love: Another Food Edition

Links I Love - Joyfully Thriving - Another Food Edition

With cold weather upon us, I’m thinking of comfort foods. Soup is at the top of my list! My husband likes a good chili but I like almost any kind of soup. Here are two new ones that I want to try – along with a couple other recipes that look tasty.

Edie of Life in Grace shared her recipe for loaded potato soup. This looks absolutely amazing. I love a baked potato with all the toppings so why not turn it into soup form? I even have bacon in the fridge so I can top my soup.

Speaking of soups, Adriane from Little House on the Dairy shared her recipe for Iowa corn chowder. It has some of the same ingredients as baked potato soup but adds creamed corn into the mixture. This looks like another winner for winter time!

Jen from Beauty and Bedlam shared her recipe for stuffed breakfast biscuits. I love a good biscuit. Always have. It’s one of my weaknesses, as I slather them with honey. Therefore, the concept of a stuffed biscuit is intriguing to me and warrants a try. Agreed?

I know it’s no longer Fall but I can (and do!) eat pumpkin year round. The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for pumpkin sheet cake looks delicious. I love her recipes. There are so many good ones to try!

Finally, Ashley at Domestic Fashionista created an ideal combination with peanut butter s’mores brownie. I like that this starts with a boxed brownie mix. Adding peanut butter and toasted marshmallows? Brilliant!

There you have it. Those are the latest recipes added to my constantly growing “to make” list.

Joyfully Thriving: Past, Present and Future

Joyfully Thriving: Past, Present and Future of this Blog. Read about the changes coming to Joyfully Thriving this year! I hope you'll join me on this frugal journey!

Have you played around with Wordle before? I learned about it several years ago and used it with my third and fourth graders. They loved creating poetry with this online site. I always liked it too. I plugged in my website address at Wordle and the above words are the ones they picked as popular words from my website. I don’t know how scientific it is, but I enjoyed seeing what Wordle said about my blog.

I’ve hinted at it several times over the past weeks and now it’s time to share. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about my website over the past month. I started blogging her at Joyfully Thriving over 4 years ago in the summer of 2010. Wow. That’s hard for me to believe! You can read my very first post here, if you’re curious, because I know many of you weren’t around then.  A lot has changed since then and a lot has stayed the same.

Then, I was newly married and teaching 3rd and 4th grade at Ascension Lutheran School. Now, I’m still happily married and a new Mom to Nathan. I stay-at-home now but still teach music (two afternoons a week) at Ascension. Have you seen my pictures that tell my story? Our grocery budget has slightly increased but we still live frugally.

I love sharing deals and encouraging others to live frugally. When I started this site, it was to reach out to other Lutherans – especially church workers. I still want to do that but I also want to reach out to other Moms and provide them frugal encouragement. I spend a lot of time focusing on deals but some days, I simply want to write about life. My blog has grown but I would like it to grow more. I make a bit of money off this site (enough to pay for my hosting yearly and just a little bit more) but my dream would be to turn this hobby of mine into another supplemental source of income for our family. I’m being bold and stating it here and now. That is one of my goals for this blog of mine.

For these reasons and more, I hope that you will like the changes at Joyfully Thriving this year! I’ve already implemented “Frugal in Fort Wayne” for all my Mom friends around town. The deals and coupons will continue because we can all use those! I’ll be continuing my “Becoming a SAHM” series this year, as well as sharing more about my daily life like I did here. “Shopping in Pictures” isn’t going anywhere because that holds me accountable to my grocery budget. I also want to share more recipes because baking makes me happy! With all these things, I’ll be working on my photography and images so that all my posts can be shared easily on Facebook and Pinterest. (If you aren’t already, find me on Pinterest to see what I’m pinning. I do so love Pinterest!) I appreciate all of you who take the time to read – and share – what I write here.

Those are just some of the things I’ve been pondering and planning. Will you chime in below? Is there anything of which you’d like to see more or less? Any topics that you’d like me to address in the upcoming year? Thank you all for being faithful readers and friends of Joyfully Thriving! It makes my heart smile to know you are all out there – somewhere – reading what I so humbly blog!

Links I Love: January 17, 2015

Links I Love

It was a busy week in the Whirrett household! Andy was in charge of a basketball tournament this weekend, so he spent some late nights at school getting ready. I started four new piano students this week in addition to my current eight. Nathan had his 9 month check-up (a couple weeks behind schedule). He’s 20 pounds, 8 ounces, and in the 67th percentile for weight…and 30th percentile for height. The temperature finally made it above freezing so Nathan and I bundled up for a walk in the snow. I’ve been baking lots of bread and pinning the following.

I love Shelly’s idea to make these easy freezer friendly mini strombolis. This makes a meal easy to prepare when you can pull out as many as you need. I love good freezer ideas like these!

Ruth shared a recipe for cheesy bloomin’ olive bread. It looks similar to a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I love olives so this looks like a delicious appetizer to me.

Andrea honestly shared 2 simple healthier habits that she is working on this year. I love this because anyone can take two baby steps towards good health. My two habits? I’m baking my own bread (to avoid preservatives) and reading labels more carefully to start high fructose corn syrup from our diets.

Edie gave 5 ways to bring the magic back to your kitchen. It’s a great list! I already start early and stock up, but thanks to Edie, I’m going to try wearing an apron more!

Alison listed 6 popular phrases that are not allowed in their home. I wasn’t allowed to speak these phrases (or similar ones) growing up and my children won’t be allowed to either. Language has great power. As parents, it is our task to make sure our children understand this.

Jon Acuff has a great list of 4 ways to read more books in 2015. I’m determined to read more this year as well. These points are good ones!

Lisa-Jo has a powerful list of resolutions (of a sort) for the upcoming year. She always writes so well! We’re not “just” moms and we do need to encourage one another to end these Mommy wars.

Finally, Hearther shared why I want our kids to see me struggle. I agree. Good parenting advice!

How was your week? What did you read and pin this week?

Kroger: Free Colgate Toothbrushes

Free Colgate Toothbrushes with Catalina at Kroger


Nathan and I had a VERY successful shopping trip at Kroger this morning. Check back on Friday for all the details and pictures! For now, I have to share this great deal so you can pick up some free toothbrushes, too! Kroger has their Colgate toothbrushes currently priced at $1. Plus, there is a deal that when you buy any 2 Colgate oral care items, you get a $2 catalina off your next order.

It should be noted that this only works once per transaction. Now, you can purchase 2 toothbrushes, checkout, and then use the $2 catalina to buy 2 more toothbrushes for free. That is how couponers roll the deals – and it is allowed at Kroger! The catalina is good on any Colgate items but makes for free toothbrushes. The catalina is running through February 4th. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to get some free toothbrushes before then!

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