Joyful Thrifty Home -
Apr 012015

God's Hand In Our Unemployment Journey - Joyful Thrifty Home

When my husband and I got married, we were both unemployed. I went back to working as a substitute teacher a couple of months later and my husband didn’t land a job until we had been married for about six months.

It was hard not knowing if we would have money to buy food or keep a roof over our heads. I dealt with immense fear every time I stepped foot into the grocery store because spending money meant we had less to rely on for other things like our electric bill and mortgage. On top of that, I hated my job and came home frustrated or in tears most of the time. I didn’t know how to deal with that while also knowing that my husband was doing his best to find a job to support us.

Beyond Unemployment…Not Always Sunshine and Daisies

I know that it was a blessing when he finally landed a job but things did not get much better. The pay was only a little more than unemployment, we still had no insurance and he was miserable because of the environment he dealt with on a daily basis which in turn made me miserable because I hated to see him in such a bad mood most of the time.

Thankfully he found a new job less than a year later and it was a much better opportunity! Then it all came crashing down in just ten months when he called me to say that he had just been laid off. Work dried up and they couldn’t afford to keep him.

I panicked. How could we handle unemployment again? Deep down I knew that God would provide but after that day I began to deal with increased anxiety, something I still struggle with to this day.

The two and a half years that followed his second lay off have been easier on us financially but still very stressful. He found some contract work and eventually was hired again but we dealt with uncertainty about his job security along with trying to understand growing concerns I had about the state of my health.

Near the end of last year, we finally decided that it was time for my husband to start looking for another job. We just couldn’t take the stress of the uncertainty anymore. He looked online and found a few possibilities but none of them seemed like they quite fit the direction he was hoping to take with a new job. He applied to one job but never heard anything.

The Perfect Job?

Then, seemingly out of nowhere he was contacted by someone whom he knew from another company through his current position asking if he would be interested in applying for a job. After reading the job description, I was honestly a bit skeptical. It seemed like a step back from where he was hoping to go not a move forward.

We talked about it some more and decided that he should at least apply and see what happens. He was quickly offered an interview! The more we thought about it, the more we realized that this could be the prefect job for him. He would be able to take his background and more recent experience and combine them into one job. Plus they needed skills that he excelled in. I began to realize that this job might be made just for him!

A few days after the interview, he was offered the job!! He was even able to negotiate a little on the salary because they believe that he has a lot to bring to this new job. I am so proud of him and where he has come in this crazy journey.

However, I would be remiss not to say that only God could have orchestrated this story in such a way. I am seeing how all the pieces and hardships are coming together to prepare us for what is to come. I don’t know what the future holds for my husband and this job but I know God lead us to this place in our journey and I trust that he will continue to lead us through whatever comes next.

Looking Ahead and Leaning On God

It has been a rough ride for many years now, especially in relation to employment. We’ve also dealt with questions about my health, depression, anxiety along with plenty of stress and uncertainty. I know that God has and will continue to use these things to shape and grow us but I am glad that I can finally see some light through the storm.

We are embarking on a new season and I am excited for some much needed changes! Along with my husbands new job we are planning to sell our condo soon and move into a house. We have decided to rent until we save up enough money for a down payment. I have been dreaming of space that gives me the freedom to enjoy the outdoors and stretch out a bit more.

Yet even with these exciting changes, I am still learning that hardships don’t just instantly go away. People get sick, death still exists, stuff breaks down and some days are just plain hard. I think one lesson I am trying to learn through all of this is that things still happen that can throw us off course but God wants nothing more than for us to lean in to him and trust that He’s got this.

Are you currently experiencing unemployment and looking for more encouragement? Check out Hope: Thriving While Unemployed by Carl and Angi Schneider

God's Hand In Our Unemployment Journey - Joyful Thrifty Home

Feb 192015

Five Ways to Get Your Creativity Back - Joyful Thrifty Home

Creativity has always been a part of me. Craft projects were my favorite thing to do as a kid and I still love to find crafty things to do. I could literally get lost for hours in Hobby Lobby looking at all the pretty fabric, scrapbook paper, jewelry supplies and yarn. The problem is that I often have lots of ideas for a project that I want to do but I rarely find the time to actually do it so the supplies just sit around not being used.

I have craft supplies tucked all over my home including my closet, under the bed, totes in the basement and even in a basket in my living room (cleverly hiding underneath a blanket of course). As you could guess, it wouldn’t take you long to find some of my stash.

When I look at the pile of pretty fabric sitting in the corner that I hope to turn into napkins, the beautiful purple yarn I hope to make into a scarf or the empty wreath waiting to be dressed up, I am filled with joy but also sadness. You see, these things make me happy but I am sad because I have just let them sit there unused.

It’s therapeutic for me to take something simple like a piece of scrapbook paper or yarn and turn it into a beautiful work of art. There is a creative part of my soul that I have left laying dormant for far too long and I have missed it. I want to work on changing that. If you want to work on getting your creativity back too, here’s some ideas:

5 Ways to Get Your Creativity Back

1. Pick one craft you love and do it today!

What’s one craft that you wish you did more often or something you have always wanted to try? Do your best to stick to one or two, at least to start with. You can always add something else but I find that trying too many things at once usually means I rarely do any of them. I want to make more time to crochet and to write in my journal. Maybe for you it’s sewing, knitting, photography or scrap-booking.

2. Go to a craft store like Hobby Lobby or browse Pinterest to get some inspiration.

As I mentioned already, Hobby Lobby is one of my favorite places to browse for inspiration. Make sure you have a specific type of project picked out before you go or you’ll get easily distracted. Since I want to crochet more, I would go to look at some yarn that I want to use to make a blanket with. I already have a journal that I made but if I didn’t I would also go to look at the scrapbook paper to find some supplies to decorate a notebook.

Pinterest can easily be a distraction or a source of frustration at all the seemingly perfect projects you can find, but it’s also a great source of inspiration. I love browsing for ideas of things I want to crochet or other crafty projects I hope to try out some day. Just make it a goal to actually try some of them and not just pin them and never do anything with it.

Check out some of my Crafty Pinterest Boards for Inspiration

3. Find something you could make to use around your home.

Not sure what to make? Think of something you could use around your home. One thing I like to make are wreaths for my front door. These are easy and don’t require a lot of skill. If you want to do a little easy sewing, you could also try making some napkins or placemats.

4. Set aside some time specifically for crafting.

One of my biggest obstacles is how I use my time so being intentional about making time for crafting is key for me. I notice that I waste a lot of time sitting at the computer mindlessly browsing Facebook. Being more conscious of this, I can free up more time in my day to do other things that need to get done as well as things like crafting that I want to do.

I want to plan on spending at least a couple of hours a week doing something crafty. Think about what times would work best for you then write it into your schedule and get crafting!

5. Find some tutorials online to help you.

Sometimes you just need a good tutorial to guide you with whatever project you are trying to make. I like to find books at the library but sometimes it’s more helpful to have someone actually showing you how to do something so I also like to search for videos online. I have found a great place to get tutorials online is through Youtube videos or Craftsy.

Craftsy is a great place to find tutorials on anything from sewing, baking, gardening, crochet, photography and more. You can find lots of free tutorials as well as more in depth courses for a fee. They also have some FREE e-guides (a $4.99 value) that you can download! Plus, with every download you will get a special discount on a related course.

11 FREE Craftsy Guides You Can Download Today!

Gardening: Success With Container Gardening

Crochet: A Beginner’s Guide to Crochet

Knitting: Knitting Stitches You Need to Know

Sewing: Sewing Stylish Pillows – Simplified

Photography: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials

Cake Decorating: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas

Food & Cooking: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at Home

Paper Crafts: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects

Drawing: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer

Painting: Beginner’s Guide to the World of Watercolor

Woodworking: Woodturning Basics for Beginners

On top of these free guides, you can access many free mini classes as well so it’s worth a look if any of those topics interest you.

What is your favorite way to express your creativity? 

Which Craftsy guide or class do you want to try?


Feb 052015

He Knows My Name - Joyful Thrifty Home

This Week

February came in with a bang and carried a nasty snow storm along with it. I don’t know what the groundhog had to say about that but I am pretty sure it’s a good sign that the snow is sticking around for a while. Though if you live in the Midwest near where I do, you know that there’s still a chance it could be 50 or 60 degrees the day after it snows. Talk about weather that can’t make up it’s mind!

Other than the addition of snow, this week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I have been struggling with more fatigue and forced to fight with my anxiety a few times. But I am also feeling hope for the path that I am taking with many different areas of my life. It’s a new thing for me to feel a sense of confidence in myself but I like it. I am also rejoicing with some friends and their announcements of little ones but grieving for another who had to say goodbye too soon.

Links & Loves

I have been thinking for a while about doing a weekly post like this where I share links to posts I have been reading or just sharing some things I am loving. After reading some great posts that I knew needed to be shared, I decided that this week was a great time to start! So here’s my favorite links and loves for this week.

It’s Never Too Late to Set Goals…No Matter How Small by Ashley (that’s me!) on Young Wife’s Guide: Check out my newest post over on Young Wife’s Guide! I wrote this post in hopes to offer you encouragement if you are in a season of struggling or if you simply haven’t been good at setting or keeping goals in the new year.

Quit Being So Grateful by Becky Kopitzke: Gratitude is a wonderful thing but sometimes trying to be grateful isn’t always the best answer. This post really hit home for me and I hope it does for you too if this is an area you struggle with.

Put Down Your Sword, Sister by Holley Gerth: I am constantly amazed how Holley’s words have the capacity to speak into my heart when I need it  most. I love her look into how we can often be our own worst enemy.

I am loving my slow cooker! Last weekend I planned out meals for two weeks and made sure to add plenty of slow cooker options as well as simple meals for busy nights. It has been a while since I was in the habit of regularly planning meals but I am determined to keep up with it! This week has been much smoother as far as meals go and purposely using my slow cooker multiple times is a life saver for sure.

I made these three slow cooker meals this week:

I am loving Francesca Battistelli’s newest album, If We’re Honest. I love how it’s a perfect mix of joyful and contemplative but also speaks to my soul. Sometimes, I just let it play on repeat all day. I made the quote image at the top of the post from the song He Knows My Name.

Find a great article or have something you are loving this week?

Share in the comments, I would love to hear from you!

This post may be submitted into a weekly link up. Check out my list of link ups here!


Jan 302015

Okay, I know February isn’t for a couple of days still, but it is right around the corner and February is a good month! I get to celebrate Valentines Day with my husband and my birthday all in the same month. I say that’s cause for some celebration so I decided to round up some great deals to share with you to start the new month. I also wanted to let you know that you should be on the lookout for some new updates from me soon as I am working like a crazy women behind the scenes on some exciting new updates for Joyful Thrifty Home that you won’t want to miss. For now, let’s get to those great deals…

Flirty Aprons Valentines Day Flash Sale

These aprons are adorable! I have one in the midnight bloom pattern and I love it. They also make great gifts, so go ahead and stock up on some extras.

Get 50% off and FREE shipping with the code LOVE50.

Flirty Aprons

Offer valid now through 2/14/15

30 % off Dayspring Mr and Mrs Collection

My favorite part of the Mr and Mrs collection are the cute mugs. I have been eyeing them ever since I first saw them. There’s lots of other cute things too like love notes, a coupon book or a journal. These would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts!

30% off Dayspring’s entire collection of Mr and Mrs gifts with coupon code MRANDMRS.

Mr and Mrs Gift Set

Offer valid from 2/2/15 through 2/5/1

Printable Valentines Day Countdown from the Dating Divas

Remember those cute Advent calendars that are used to countdown to Christmas? Well, I know Christmas has passed but why not do something similar to celebrate the coming of Valentines Day with your spouse! The Dating Divas have tons of cute date ideas and gorgeous printables. I bought a birthday card pack to make a card for my husband and I loved how it turned out.

Use coupon code VDAY3  to get your Valentine’s Countdown for just $4.97

Offer valid now through 2/1/15

Craftsy Winter Wonder Sale

If you love crafts like sewing, knitting or crochet, you’ll want to check this one out. Plus you can get lots of great classes through Craftsy too and there are even a lot of free classes too!

Up to 65% off all fabric, yarn and kits.


Offer valid now through 2/2/15

70% off Dayspring Calendars

Still looking for a calendar or want to get one for a great deal? Dayspring has some gorgeous choices for you! My husband bought me the Lyrics for Life calendar from our local Christian bookstore for Christmas. It’s a beautiful calendar filled with art made from inspiration song lyrics. You can get it now for just $3.00!!

 70 % off all calendars from Dayspring.

Lyrics for Life

Offer valid now through 2/1/15

40% off Kitchen Stewardship eBook Sale 

Kitchen Stewardship is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about whole foods and natural living. Katie, the author, has lots of great ebooks available in her site. She is running a special sale where you can get 40% off your purchase when you add two items to your order. I have a few of her books and I can attest that they are great resources! I especially love her Better Than a Box book.

Use the code EATWELL2015 to get 40% off your entire order when you add at least two items to your cart — including the already discounted packages!
eBooks   Kitchen Stewardship   A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Offer valid now through 1/31/15

Dec 242014

Apple Oven Pancake with Candied Pecans - Joyful Thrifty Home

Merry Christmas! It’s hard to believe that it is almost here already. It’s a gloomy and rainy day outside but I am diffusing some Joyful Moments essential oil that smells like Christmas to make it feel more cheerful. Today I am doing some cleaning, grocery shopping and heading to church for our Christmas Eve service. Tomorrow my husband and I will spend the morning having breakfast together and opening our gifts to each other before having family over for dinner.

This past Thanksgiving we created a new menu with a lot of dishes we had never tried before. It was fun to try new recipes but it was a lot of work to coordinate so many new and complicated recipes. So for Christmas we are keeping the menu simple with ham and some other simple side dishes. I am also simplifying Christmas breakfast by making this apple oven pancake instead of my usual cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

Apple oven pancake is something I have often made for dinner when I need to use up some apples. The last time I made it, I decided to add some cinnamon sugar pecans and it was wonderful! My husband even commented that it tasted like apple pie. That’s when I knew it would make a great dish for Christmas breakfast.

If you are looking for a new idea for Christmas breakfast or just want a simple dish to make for dinner one night, try it out!

Apple Oven Pancake with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Yield: 8 servings

Author: Ashley |

Apple Oven Pancake with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans


    Apple Oven Pancake:
  • 4-5 small apples (or about 2 large) - preferably a tart apple like granny smith to balance the sweetness
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • Cinnamon Sugar Pecans:
  • 2 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


    Apple Oven Pancake:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Place butter in a 13x9 inch glass baking dish. Put baking dish into oven while it is heating. Remove from the oven when butter is melted. Brush butter around the pan until it is evenly distributed.
  2. While butter is melting, core and peel all the apples. Then cut apples into thin slices. Place apples in baking dish with melted butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix until apples are coated with the butter and sugar. Spread apples in the pan as evenly as possible. Bake apples for 8-10 minutes or until slightly softened.
  3. Use a medium size mixing bowl to combine flour, salt, eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir until moist but do not over mix. Pour mixture over apples. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.
  4. Serve immediately with cinnamon sugar pecans. Top with maple syrup or powdered sugar if desired.
  5. Cinnamon Sugar Pecans:
  6. Melt butter in a small-medium pan over medium heat on the stove.
  7. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  8. Add pecans and stir to coat. Stir frequently until butter sugar mixture begins to bubble. Continue cooking for a few minutes longer. Sugar may become sticky. Remove from pan and pour onto a plate covered with parchment paper. Allow pecans to sit until cooled and sugar has begun to harden.

What’s your favorite Christmas breakfast?

The Healthy Breakfast Book by Kitchen Stewardship

Oct 162014

I Am A Writer - Joyful Thrifty Home

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending Breathe Christian Writers Conference held at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary on the campus of Cornerstone University (where I attended college!). It was seemingly by chance that I heard about the conference only a couple of weeks before it was set to happen. It took me almost a day to muster up the courage to even ask my husband about it but once I did, he was completely supportive. With only a few days to spare before registration closed, I took the plunge and signed up.

Here is my story of how I decided to attend a writing conference and why I am glad I did….

Unable to Write

Before attending Breathe, I had lost the motivation to write because I found myself trapped in a fog. It’s like I no longer knew how to allow myself to write as I tried to sort through some bumps on the road of life. Over time, writing had become more of a chore than an outlet.  Many days, my only victory has been simply getting out of bed in the morning so trying to add in one more responsibility is often too overwhelming.

As a result,  I struggled with the ability to sit down and let my pen or keyboard put meaningful words to the page. Day in and day out, I beat myself up over why I was having such a hard time. It’s not like I have a catastrophic life event to explain away my struggles. It’s just one little thing after another, amounting to heightened stress, anxiety, depression and a lingering question about why I feel so physically awful. Add in the doubt  that anyone would understand and I was in quite the predicament with myself.

I wanted to write but I didn’t feel like a writer.  After all, I was no longer writing. However, that would soon change.

Learning to Love Writing Again

About a month ago, I began seeing a counselor who encouraged me to start a new journal. It was through the experience of finding and writing in this journal that I have been inspired to pick up my pen and learn to love writing once more. Recently, I posted a photo of the journal on Facebook and Instagram with a caption of how it has reminded me of why I like to write. I hope to go into more detail about my journal and the story of how it came be but I will leave that for another day.


It was only a few days after making my journal when I heard about Breathe. I couldn’t shake the feeling that finding out about the conference at the same time I started to love writing again was not a coincidence. I felt inadequate and unsure of myself but I knew that God was orchestrating something and I needed to listen.

Before I knew it, conference day was here and I was on my way to Grand Rapids. Upon arriving, I saw people milling about, people who in some way identified themselves as writers.  I pushed back the voices telling me I didn’t belong and headed to get signed in. I also tried to remind myself that I was here for a reason so I spent the next two days soaking in all I could.

What I Learned at Breathe 2014

Over the course of two days, I gained invaluable insight into the world of writing. I learned about writing strategies, book publishing, author support groups, blogging and building a platform. I  was encouraged to follow my heart and be who I am. I even learned a thing or two about myself.

Maybe the fact that I am an introvert who longs for intimate relationships isn’t so weird after all. Maybe my tendency to over analyze and spend hours doing random research is just a part of who I am. Maybe it is okay to see the world through a different lens. I often feel misunderstood and alone but being surrounded by people united in the fact that they feel a call to write made me feel a sense of belonging like I have never felt.

Maybe I am a writer.

You would think since I was at a writers conference that I already identified myself as a writer but truthfully I wasn’t so sure. I had no doubt that I liked to write but until now I lacked the confidence to call myself a writer because I didn’t think I was good enough.

I am finally beginning to understand that writing is a skill that could always use improvement. I don’t consider myself to be the best writer but I do know this: I don’t have to have a published book, a well known blog or be getting paid to write as a profession to call myself a writer.

All it takes to be a writer is to feel the call to write and then do it. If there is one thing I want to take away from Breathe, it is that I AM A WRITER! I can’t say that I gained exponential amounts of confidence over night but a spark of hope was lit in my soul and I may never be the same.

Stir Up The Gift of God - Joyful Thrifty Home

IBG Unplugged

Jun 042014

 My Summer Bucket List - Joyful Thrifty Home

Wow, it’s hard to believe that June has already started! It seems like just yesterday I was looking out at the piles of snow wondering if it would ever go away. It was a long hard winter around my neck of the woods and I am ever so grateful for the sunshine and breeze blowing through my window this afternoon.

I don’t know about you but the weather wasn’t the only harsh thing about this past winter. It just seemed like a long depressing season for a lot of people, myself included. In December I witnessed a scary and devastating fire in my condominium complex which shook me in many ways. After that, some anxiety issues began to surface along with a continuing season of stress from not being able to sleep well. It seemed like a vicious cycle of stress, anxiety and lack of rest. I am definitely ready to put this winter behind me and keep moving forward!

A New Season

All that said, I have so much to be thankful for! One huge praise for my family is that after a full year of working through a temp agency, my husband was finally offered a regular position!! We are beyond blessed but also learning not to take it for granted. I don’t want to forget about how God always provides even when it seems impossible. I have a photo with the words from the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness above my desk. The words remind me that no matter what my situation is, God is faithful.

I want to take on this next season with renewed sense of hope and joy. God has been showing me a lot over the past few months and I really feel like it’s time to get back to writing more. I also have realized how much I thoroughly enjoy nature so I am planning to be more intentional about soaking it in this summer.  As a way to do that I came up with a bucket list of sorts with my goals for the summer.

My Summer Bucket List

  • Get outside for at least 15-30 minutes a day: I’ve been getting stir crazy being stuck inside for so long, so even a few minutes a day sitting on the deck to soak in some fresh air is rejuvenating for me. I don’t do this as often as I should though so that’s why it’s on my list.
  • Go to the beach at least three times: My husband and I live less than an hour from Lake Michigan which if you didn’t know is one of the most gorgeous fresh water lakes there is. As a born and raised Michigan girl, I may be a bit biased, but that’s besides the point. Anyway…We finally made a couple of trips there last summer and I can’t wait to venture back and enjoy the beach town, the sun and the waves. Watching the summer sun set on the lake is one of my favorite things.

Lake Michigan - Joyful Thrifty Home

  • Go berry picking: I haven’t been berry picking since I was a kid but I’ve been wanting to go again. I’ve been dreaming of all the recipes I could make with my fresh picked blueberries and strawberries!
  • Go hiking: I like going on walks around our neighborhood with my husband but we haven’t done much actual hiking. I know there are some good trails we could use so I am hoping to make use of them this summer.
  • Go bike riding more than once: Another activity my husband and I don’t do often enough is bike riding. I think we’ve gone out on our bikes once or twice a year at most. This year, I am hoping to break that sad record and get out on our bikes more than a few times. We also both need to get in better shape which is why I am putting lots of activity goals like this on my list.
  • Go camping: Growing up, my family went camping just about every summer but it’s been years since I’ve gone. My husband and I even have a tent and other supplies that we got for wedding gifts that we have never used. It’s been almost four years since we got married, so I think it’s about time we make use of them and actually go on a camping trip this summer!
  • Go on a vacation: My husband and I haven’t taken an actual vacation in almost three years. Now that he finally has some vacation time again, we are planning to make good use of it. I could definitely use some time away from home to refresh and spend good quality time with my husband. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast for our first anniversary so I am hoping to go back there again.

bed and breakfast - Joyful Thrifty Home

  • Go to a baseball game: I am not much of a sports fan. I honestly don’t understand football. Basketball isn’t that interesting to me. Golf is just plain boring. However, one sport I can get into is baseball. My husband and I don’t get any sport channels but we’ve started listening to the games on the radio more often. We’ve been talking about catching a game for years now so hopefully this summer we can get it into our schedule. Go Tigers!
  • Read at least four books: I am terrible at actually finishing a book for some reason so I am making a goal of reading at least four books this summer. Here’s my list: You Were Made For a God Sized Dream by Holley Gerth, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine, Getting Things Done by David Allen and The Help by Katherine Stockett.
  • Journal through at least one psalm: I did this as a bible study with an English professor when I was in college and I loved it so I am not sure why I never tried it again. I could definitely use some good quality quiet time this summer and I know this practice will be a great way to do that. I can see myself using my outside time to dig in and write my heart out into my journal. I hope that it’s as therapeutic as I imagine it to be.

I am looking forward to what this summer will bring! I’m going to do my best to be more intentional about how I use my time and make sure I enjoy being outside and spending quality time with my husband. I also hope to be able to update more consistently and get back into a better routine with writing as well.

What are your summer goals or bucket list activities?

How do you plan to be intentional this summer?

May 182014

Wholesome Berry Breakfast Cereal - Joyful Thrifty Home

I am not a morning person so even after I pull myself out of bed I am not usually very coherent until I’ve had some coffee. Not being a morning person also means that it’s easy for me to skip breakfast. For a long time my normal breakfast has consisted of nothing but coffee…just coffee. Without my coffee, I tend to do crazy things like put cumin instead of cinnamon on my oatmeal and not on purpose. Yes, I actually did that. I told you I was not very coherent in the morning didn’t I? Thankfully the smell alerted me to my mistake and I dumped it out before I ate any of it.

One of the things I am working in my journey to getting healthier is eating more often and that includes breakfast even if that means preparing something before I am fully awake. It has been a challenge to force myself to eat breakfast everyday but I am getting better at it.

One of my major challenges in making sure I get breakfast everyday has been finding something that is easy to prepare yet still good for me. I want something that is going to help me get going in the morning not something loaded with sugar that is just going to make me crash mid morning.

Wholesome Berry Breakfast Cereal (Berries) - Joyful Thrifty Home

I try to find things with fiber, protein or other good nutrients to help get me going in the morning which is why I love this berry breakfast cereal. It’s packed with lots of wholesome goodness.

I initially tried quinoa on its own but wasn’t a huge fan so that’s why I decided to mix it with oats. I also added flax/chia for extra fiber and omega-3. You can add whatever berries you like. I just love the combination of raspberries and blueberries so that is what I used. My favorite part of this cereal is how the raspberries are crushed and mixed in so you get the tart berry flavor in every bite.

Wholesome Berry Breakfast Cereal

Author: Ashley | Joyful Thrifty Home (www.JoyfulThriftyHom

Wholesome Berry Breakfast Cereal


  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds (or a blend of both)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • sweetener of choice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped nuts (optional - sliced almonds shown)
  • additional berries (optional)


  1. Combine oats, quinoa, flax and water in a bowl and mix. Microwave for one minute. Remove and stir.
  2. Add milk, berries and sweeten to taste. Mix until well combined. Return to microwave and cook for one more minute or until heated through.
  3. Crush the raspberries and mix well.
  4. Top with nuts and additional berries.


Stove Top Directions: Place dry ingredients and water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook for one to two minutes longer. Stir in milk, berries and sweetener. Cook until heated through.

Looking for more healthy breakfasts? Check out The Healthy Breakfast Book by Katie of Kitchen Stewardship. You’ll find lots of great ideas for making breakfast the real food way. Here’s the short synopsis: “With over 50 family-friendly recipes, key tips for planning ahead, hosting a brunch and the one food to have on hand to kickstart your family’s “5-a-day” fruits and veggies at breakfast, this book will be your guide to healthier mornings.”

The Healthy Breakfast Book by Kitchen Stewardship

 What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? 

Do you have some easy go-to breakfasts for busy mornings? 

May 072014

Pssst: Enter to win an Ice Cream Maker bundle (Worth $120+) below!!

Enter to win an ice cream maker, apron and ice cream cookbook from the Christian Homemaking community. - Joyful Thrifty Home

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

As women, and as Christians, we are called to be in constant community with one another. We are to be in fellowship with other women, always growing, always learning, always serving. As homemaker’s and Christian women, we should be striving to exemplify the Titus 2 model:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2: 3 – 4

Introducing the Christian Homemaking Community

As a blogger, one of my main goals is to connect with other women. I love that I can hop online and find other like-minded Christian women that I can learn from and grow with! So I’m very excited to share that we are introducing an all new Christian Homemaking Community on Facebook!

21 bloggers have come together to create a place where we can chat, learn from each other, grow, and find fellowship among other Christian Homemakers. You can request to join our private Facebook group HERE.

You will also get to connect and chat with your favorite homemaking bloggers including:

Why Join Our New Community?

Each week you will have access to all the latest posts, articles, videos, and discussions from all your favorite homemaking bloggers! No more having to hunt through Pinterest or Facebook for good things to read. You will find encouragement, motivation, tips, recipes, photos, and more!

Come on over and jump into daily discussions such as what is the best way to clean out your fridge, how to do freezer cooking, favorite recipes, and more! You will also have exclusive homemaking content not available anywhere else – and the best part? It’s totally and completely FREE! Join our Facebook group here: The Christian Homemaking Community.

Our Free Gift To You

In celebration of launching our new community, and as our free gift to you , the 21 homemaking bloggers have come together to offer you an amazing eBook: Sweetly Summer ~ Beat the Heat with Yummy and Refreshing Treats – totally FREE! Just join our private Facebook group and you will get instant access!

You will get instant access to some amazing summer treats including: ice cream recipes, how to make whip cream, smoothie recipes, yummy sides, energizing snacks, sweet treats and more!


Enter to win an Ice Cream Maker

Also in celebration of our new community, we are giving one lucky winner the chance to win an amazing Ice Cream Maker ($80), adorable apron (style and color of your choice – $35), and the Just Making Ice Cream recipe eBook ($12)! This entire bundle is worth more than $120!! Enter to win via the rafflecopter form below.

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you for using my links to make a purchase. Read my disclosure policy here. Thank you for supporting Joyful Thrifty Home!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 052014

How I Organized My Office Space for Free

I have a confession. I am not known for my organizational skills. In fact organization is something I often have to force myself to do. The weird thing about me (well one of the is that I do like things to be put in order, I just struggle with keeping it that way.

If you come over you definitely won’t find an immaculately clean and organized home. In fact, if you were to walk in at this very moment you would find dishes in the sink and on the counter that need to be washed and laundry from two days ago that I have yet to put away. So even though I do my best to keep things clean and in some semblance of order, I can’t guarantee it will always be that way.

The Dreaded Office Space

One area of my home that has been really bothering me lately is the office space, also known as the corner of my dining area where the desk sits because that’s the only place it will fit. There is just enough room for the chair between the dining table and the desk so it’s a tight space.

What has made it worse is the serious lack of organization going on. Papers were piling up and it was starting to feel even more cramped. So I finally decided to do something about it!

Before I get to how I made it work for me, let’s take a look at the before situation of my desk. Below you will see the various components of what made up my messy desk.

Messy Desk

The Components of My Messy Desk

  1. File folder crate with random stuff piled on top.
  2.  Old calendar that has not been changed since September 2013.
  3. Letter about scheduled maintenance that took place last July.
  4. Other random notes including old appointment reminders and two year old Christmas cards.
  5. Plastic storage bins mostly used as junk drawers.
  6. Cups filled with too many writing utensils, many of which don’t even work plus other random things like old lip gloss.
  7. Mail organizer with old mail that should be filed or thrown out.
  8. Empty wrapper (at least it was from that day).
  9. Is that a cat toy? Yep!
  10.  My planner that I bought last Fall and still haven’t used much.
  11. Random notepads.
  12. Old printer cartridge and other random things stuffed behind the computer monitor.
  13. Hanging file bin with notepads, mail and other random noted stuffed in there.
  14. Daily flip calendar that hasn’t been changed for almost a month.
  15. More random things on top of the printer.
  16. The dusty printer. That dust is everywhere! 
  17. Stack of mail and receipts that should be filed and organized instead of just sitting on the desk.

The Organizing Process

Now that you have an idea of what I was working with we can move on to how I got it organized. First, I needed to assess the situation and why the current set up wasn’t working for me.

The main thing I needed to change was the fact that most of the desk was taken up by the printer so I had to figure out a way to fix that. The other main issue is that it had become a drab space that I did not enjoy sitting it and when it is the place that I spend most of my daytime hours I needed a change.

There was also a lot of clutter and dust that needed to be taken care of so I could start with a mostly clean slate. My first task was to get everything cleaned and dusted and sorted through what was junk or what needed to be put in a specific place.

Making it Functional

I spent some time brainstorming what I need to make the desk functional for me. I knew the printer needed to be somehow elevated and that I needed dedicated spaces to store specific things. It would have been easy to go to Target and pick out a bunch of organizing supplies and believe me that desk has seen much better days but I really wanted to figure out a way to work with what I had.

First, I went through my home to decide what things I already had that I could use. I found two crates, a small blue one and a larger white one. They both had things in them but I was able to relocate the contents so I could use them. These were very helpful in getting the desk organized and useful. The other things like the calendar and some decorative items, I already had around the house.

Organized Desk

Components of My Organized Desk

  1. Cleaned out and mostly organized drawers.
  2. File folder crate unburied.
  3. Fabric covered cork board cleaned of cluttered papers and notes.
  4. Encouraging scriptures displayed on board.
  5. Easy access to my verse cards.
  6. Cleaned and organized office supplies using an organizer that was hiding behind the desk before.
  7. Small crate used to prop up container on top and as a small storage space.
  8. Gotta have the coffee!
  9. Dry erase calendar that was not currently being used.
  10. Hanging file cleared out and used to hold accordion folders with receipts and other important papers. These I already had, they just were not as neatly placed.
  11. Mail sorter cleaned out and left with address labels, stamps and a few other papers for easy access.
  12. A few pretty accents found around the house and placed on the desk to give it some fun. My favorite is my willow tree figure that my husband bought me on our first anniversary trip.
  13. Daily flip calendar actually on the right day!
  14. Crate used to prop up printer and house binders, notebooks, planner and books I am using.

Not Perfect But Better

I love this new setup so much better than before! I also love that it cost me absolutely nothing to do. All I had to do was take some things I already had and make it work for what I needed. Now when I sit here I feel much more productive. My favorite thing about it is probably the added decorative accents and encouraging scriptures that help brighten my day.

Of course there are plenty of ways I could make it prettier or more useful. It isn’t perfect and I will probably still change some things but it’s a huge improvement from what it was. It seems I am learning the reality that trying to get something perfect  the first time usually halts any sort of progress. It’s better to make small steps toward a goal and, if needed, make changes along the way.

Is there a space in your home that you need to organize? 

What’s your favorite organizational tip? 

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