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!

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!

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.

Kroger: Free Herdez Sauce

Free Herdez Sauce

Today’s Friday Freebie at Kroger is for a free jar of Herdez Cooking Sauce (12 ounces). Download the coupon today and redeem by December 7th.

Tiny Print: 10 Free Christmas Cards

Tiny Prints 10 Free Holiday Cards

Yay! Here’s another free Christmas card offer! Through Wednesday, November 12th, you can order 10 free Christmas cards when you use the code 10FREECARDS at Tiny Prints. There are so many beautiful options from which you can choose! Go order yours now. Fine print is included below.

Offer expires 11/12/2014 (11:59 P.M. PT). Enjoy ten (10) free Holiday cards using the code 10FREECARDS at checkout. Postage, shipping, and tax fees may apply. Offer applies exclusively to Holiday greeting cards and is not applicable to previously placed orders, shipping, taxes, or postage. Cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with other offers, discounts, promotions or credits. This offer does not apply to add-ons (liners, trim options, paper options, envelopes, and address labels). Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address. This particular offer code can only be redeemed once. Offer is only valid on Tiny Prints and is not applicable to third party or partner websites. 

Snap & 8 FREE Packages of Wipes

Snap BY Groupon

Have you heard of Snap? I recently did, thanks to my cousin, Bethany. Snap is a cash back rebate program sponsored by Groupon. It’s similar to Ibotta, for those of you who use that. There are three things about Snap that I really like.

First and most importantly, you can redeem the offers at ANY store! Second, you don’t have to have a Smart Phone to take advantage of these deals. To claim the offers, you simply have to submit a picture of your receipt. You can download the app to do so (if you have a smart phone) or upload a digital picture (from your computer, if you don’t have a smart phone). Finally, the offers are high value that are already making for some freebies!

I encourage you to sign up for Snap and give it a try. In fact, I’d encourage you to do so now because right now, you can get 8 free packages of Huggies wipes, thanks to Snap! Time to stock up at this price! Here’s how it works.

Snap Huggies Wipes

There are 4 separate offers for Huggies wipes – and all can be redeemed twice (8 packages total). Simply go to any store and pick up the packages of wipes. The offer is good for Huggies Simply Clean wipes, One & Done wipes, Natural Care wipes and Soft Skin wipes. At my Meijer, the refill packages are regularly priced at $1.99. They are also on sale at Kroger for $1.99 right now. This should also be this price at many stores, including Walmart. Buy your wipes and come home and upload your receipt to your Snap account. The $2 (for each package) will be credited to your account. Once you reach $20, you will receive a check in the mail.

There are some other great offers on Snap right now including $1 back on any back of candy and $1 back on any gallon of milk. With deals like these, I’m sure to be sharing more about Snap in the future because I always love new ways to save money – and get groceries for free!

Recyclebank: 25

Quickly earn 25 more points to add to your Recyclebank by clicking on the image above. You can redeem your Recyclebank points for magazine subscriptions, coupons and even gift cards! I highly encourage you to start collecting Recyclebank points now because you’ll be amazed how quickly those can add up.

Free DVD from Izzit

Pups of Liberty

If you are a teacher (or home schooler), you can request a free dvd from Izzit. It is completely free – no strings attached. Plus, you can request a new free dvd each school year! Last year, I requested In the Classroom with David Robinson. I just requested Pups of Liberty as my choice for this year. It tells the story of the Boston Tea Party with cats and dogs. Teachers, sign up for Izzit and request your free dvd today.

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