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!

Links I Love: Appetizer Edition

Links I Love Appetizer Edition of Joyfully Thriving

I’m ready to start doing some baking again. I realized that several of the recipes on my list fall into the appetizer genre. I could make a whole meal of appetizers. When we get together with friends, we often do an appetizer style meal. Here are some of the new appetizers that I want to try.

Joy the Baker gave a very simple combination of salty and sweet with chocolate dipped potato chips. It gives you a bit of something sweet with your appetizers. It’s also fun twist on putting out a dish of plain potato chips!

Tara of Unsophisticook shared her recipe for easy pepperoni rolls – using string cheese, pepperoni and crescent rolls. They do look simple and tasty! She also shared 4 ingredient mini chicken pot pies. This one starts with biscuits and like a tasty appetizer and / or meal.

Kirsten Oliphant shared a recipe for cheesy potato empanadas. I haven’t had empanadas in much too long. They are a yummy Tex-Mex tradition that I miss. That moves this recipe to the top of my list.

Don’t Waste the Crumbs created a recipe for healthy hot pockets. It’s really a mini calzone type recipe that can be made and frozen ahead of time. This would be another recipe that could be a meal option.

Yay for appetizers! I can’t wait to give some of these recipes a try. What are your favorite appetizers?

Top 10 Links Collection

Links I Love Button

I shared the most popular posts from Joyfully Thriving the other day in the form of a Top 10 post. Many of my other favorite blogs have done the same. It’s where I got the idea to do so last year – and this. In case you don’t read all of them, here’s a collection of the top 10 posts at some of the blogs I read. It’s a good way to discover some new content, too! There are some other lists post thrown in for good measure.

Kristen of the Frugal Girl shared her Top 10 Frugal Posts. My favorite was her article on “Because $90,000 Clearly Isn’t Enough.” Go read it. It’s a good one.

The Latina Homemaker was a new discovery of mine and I love reading what Jesenia has to share. You can view her Top 10 Most Read Posts here. 

Cleverly Simple shared her Top 10 list here. Lynette’s made some major changes with her site this year to make it a better fit for her and her family. I’m enjoying seeing her process even as I reflect on changes I am contemplating here.

Shelly at Frugal Family Home shared her Top 10 Recipes of 2014. I’ve added a couple of these to my to-make list! She also shared her 10 Most Popular Money Saving articles. Both lists are worth a read!

Along a different line, Edie from Life in Grace shared her 7 Favorite Life Lessons from the Year. It’s a powerful list. Read it carefully.

Mandi of Life Your Way shared her Top 10 Reads of 2014. I stopped counting at 40 when Nathan was born (oops!) but will do better this next year. I’ve added several books to my list, thanks to Mandi.

Crystal of Money Saving Mom also shared her Top 10 Best Books she read this year. I find reading lists so interesting – and personal. Once again, I added books to my list after reading Crystal’s summaries.

There’s plenty to read here so enjoy!

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Joyfully Thriving's Top 10 Posts of 2014 - Lots of Great Articles here

As we begin a new year, I thought it would be fun to see which posts were most popular in 2014. It is interesting to me to see which ones were searched for the most. Some are the same as the top articles of 2013 but there are some new popular ones too.

Also, I want to say a sincere thank you to everyone who pins my articles and recipes and idea on Pinterest. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Pinterest is one of my favorite ways to discover new things (you can follow me here) and I love being able to share with others there, too.

10. Preschool Handprint Calendars are an absolutely adorable gift to make with your young child! I know that I can’t wait to make one with Nathan.

Preschool Handprint Calendar - My favorite gift for preschoolers to give their parents! Here are a year's worth of ideas for your preschoolers to create this priceless gift - Joyfully Thriving

9. I was surprised to see that my directions for how to can blackberry jam were quite popular this year. Homemade jam is so delicious and really not hard to make. Give it a try when you have fresh berries available to you!

Blackberry Jam

8. People are always interested in learning how and what to stockpile. For that reason, my advice of 10 items to stockpile in a pantry is a great place to start with stockpiling.

10 Items to Stockpile

7. Speaking of stockpiling, people were quite interested in how I stockpiled diapers for our baby. I bought over 2000 diapers for under $50, a frugal practice that has served me well as Nathan grows.

How I Built a Stockpile of over 2000 diapers for under $50 for our baby - Encouragement that anyone can do it!

6. I love these basic freezer meatballs because they are so versatile. Spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, sweet and sour meatballs…the possibilities really are endless!

A basic meatball recipe for your freezer cooking - Lots of flexibility for future recipes with this one!

5. 31 Days of Freezer Cooking remains my most popular series to date. There are 31 days of great recipes here so if you haven’t already, take a look and stock your freezer!

31 Days of Freezer Cooking

4. I love simple projects and this one is that. A long distance hug on Valentine’s Day is a cute project that any grandparent would love to receive! Remember this idea come February!

A Long Distance Hug

3. This one surprised me but I shouldn’t be surprised because it really is delicious. The best ever homemade chocolate frosting was quite popular this year. The picture isn’t the greatest but one taste of this frosting will convince you never to buy store bought again!

Best Homemade Chocolate Frosting

2. Like last year, my post for a Biblical version of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” grabbed second place. This is a priceless gift that can be created by anyone. I have a free pdf available with this file so you can create your own copy for someone special.

Biblical Version of Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

1. Once again, the most popular post of the year was for my classic buckeyes. This recipe has now been pinned 17,500 times – just since I started tracking it a year ago. Thanks everyone! Everywhere I took my buckeyes this Christmas (as usual), I was getting compliments. They are delicious and sure to become a favorite of yours. Give them a try!

How to Make Buckeyes

What were your favorite posts of the year? Was it one of these – or a different one? I look forward to sharing many more with you this year!

Continued Voting for our Cute Gerber Baby

Nathan at 6 Months

There are ten days remaining to vote for our cute little boy as the next Gerber baby. You can vote daily at the official Gerber Baby Photo Search site. Nathan’s id number is 47414. Thank you for voting – and spreading the word as we vote for Nathan!

Idina Menzel’s Holiday Wishes

I have been a fan of Idina Menzel since before her Frozen fame. It was when I first heard her sing on the Wicked soundtrack that I realized her immense talent. I did enjoy the chance to hear her sing again in Frozen, but was even more excited to learn that she was releasing a Christmas album – Holiday Wishes. Did you see her trailer for this cd?

Holiday Wishes includes 12 tracks of old and new Christmas songs. I was eager to listen to them all. The songs included on Holiday Wishes are as follows.

  • Do You Hear What I Hear?
  • The Christmas Song
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside (Duet with Michael Buble)
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  • All I Want For Christmas
  • What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
  • December Prayer
  • When You Wish Upon A Star
  • Silent Night
  • River
  • Holly Jolly Christmas
  • White Christmas

What I discovered as I began listening was that the cd wasn’t what I expected. The songs I thought I would enjoy the most weren’t my favorites. I loved hearing Idina sing with Michael Buble (another one of my favorite singers) but I didn’t enjoy all the extra verses and talking on “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. “White Christmas” was lovely but it is hard to beat Bing Crosby’s original version.  “Silent Night” is always beautiful and Idina sang it very nicely but I didn’t like the embellishments at the end.

Holiday Wishes was enjoyable but I don’t know it will become one of my favorites. Perhaps that is because I tend to listen to Christian cds or instrumental cds for my Christmas music. Perhaps it was that Idina embellished a bit too much on the classics for me. Holiday Wishes was still a well-done cd and I did enjoy listening to Idina sing a variety of Christmas songs.

If you are interested in purchasing Holiday Wishes for yourself, you can do so on Itunes or on Amazon, as well as your local retailer.

I participated in the Idina Menzel Holiday Wishes album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

Pumpkin Recipe Links I Love

Links I Love Button

I love all things pumpkin. I bake pumpkin bread and muffins year round, but lately I’ve seen an influx of pumpkin recipes. Honestly? I want to try most of them! Here are some of the ones on my “pumpkin to make” list.

Coupon Cutting Mom shared her recipe for Pumpkin Butter Cake. I made two new pumpkin recipes last year and only liked one. I’m pretty sure this was the one I liked. I guess I should make it again to see if it is the one I’m remembering.

I’ve never had Starbucks scones but I know people rave about them – especially the pumpkin ones. Iowa Girl Eats shared her recipe for Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones. I like scones and I like pumpkin, so what’s not to like about the two combined?

The Recipe Critic shared a recipe for Pumpkin Snickerdoodles stuffed with cream cheese. Doesn’t that sounds delicious?

Cooking Classy make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Is that too much pumpkin? Should I even attempt to mess with a classic cinnamon roll or is this a fun fall twist? I can’t decide but I am intrigued.

I “met” Kirsten through the recent 31 day series and discovered her recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake with Browned Butter Frosting. Chocolate and pumpkin is an ideal combination in my book so I know I want to try this cake.

My friend / cousin / former fellow teacher, Cathy, used to make Pumpkin Fluff with her students before Thanksgiving. It’s a simple recipe and can be quite healthy if you use low fat options. Here is a Pumpkin Fluff recipe as shared by Recipe Diaries.

Finally, Love Bakes Good Cakes shared a recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting. I don’t bake a lot of cupcakes because they tend to be more time-intensive. Still, this combination with a cream cheese frosting might just convince me to bake a pan of cupcakes!

I can’t decide which one to make first. What do you think? You can see more of the pumpkin goodies I’ve pinned on my Pinterest board about pumpkins. Follow me on Pinterest to see what else I’m pinning. 

Follow Kristen Whirrett (Joyfully Thriving)’s board Pretty & Delicious Pumpkins on Pinterest.

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