Thriving Thursday 8/28

Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out.

I’ve been busy here at the blog this week!

The Reading Game Giveaway 

Our family loves this game, and I’m excited to give away a copy to one of you. Head on over and enter the giveaway!

The Reading Game review and giveaway. A great game to teach and reinforce reading skills.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Nothing more to say here…just go get the recipe :)

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies










Kiwi Crate Giveaway

I am giving away a single kiwi crate kit of the winner’s choice, over on my facebook page! Be sure to check it out and enter to win :)

Kiwi Crate Review

I’ve shared here before how much I LOVE Kiwi Crate and their Free Trial Offer. This week, I shared a bit more about why we love them so much.

Why we LOVE Kiwi Crate Subscription Crafts



What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.


Top 5 Things I Love About Kiwi Crate

Disclosure: I received this Kiwi crate for review purposes. I was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Why we LOVE Kiwi Crate Subscription Crafts

I’ve shared before that we love Kiwi Crate. I just can’t say enough good things about this company, their products, or their level of customer service.  But, as we enjoyed playing with a new kit last week, I decided to condense it down to my top 5 favorite things.

It makes my kids smile like this

Kiwi Crate Open

The above shot is my kids saying “Can we please open it, mommy? Please, please, please?” As soon as we brought it in the door. They know that box. They love that box. It’s like a present, and they can’t wait to open it up, dig in and see what’s inside.

Kiwi Crate Open Box

Just for fun, I made a video of them opening their box. This isn’t rehearsed folks! lol. In fact, I cracked up when I watched it again, at the things they were each most excited about. I wish I had a video of them getting the box, though, because that was the real excitement.

And the smiles come even more, of course, while they are working on the projects, and playing with them, but we’ll get to that part later.

Kiwi Crate Subscriptions are a Great Value

You all know that we are on a tight budget, so I really weigh things a lot before I consider that they are worth the price. Kiwi Crate is more than worth the price. In fact, I am newly amazed every time I get a box that they can sell these kits at such a great price. They are just $19.99 per kit, and with a subscription, the cost includes shipping!

Kiwi Crate Explore Magazine

Each kit contains every single thing you need to complete 2 projects, and the super neat Explore magazine you see above. Again…amazement. They think of everything–from adhesive squares to markers, and everything in the kit is very professional.

You will also find detailed picture instructions, along with a guide showing the level of parent involvement necessary. But, it is so nice to be able to just sit down, open the box, and do the craft. I love spending that time with my boys, because I get to skip the less fun prep work of planning the project, getting materials, etc.

If you have multiple children, you can also add-on a second set of project supplies for siblings for just $9.95

They are Educational

Kiwi crates aren’t just fun, they are educational. Some are more directly than others (such as the wind crate we posted about last time), but the lessons in this kit are there as well–we used our city kit to talk about community helpers, etc. as they were building their cities.

Kiwi Crate Craft Subscription Kit

You can browse the single kits to see which ones might be best for your homeschool.

They Inspire Creativity

Though there are instructions for the kit, many things are very open ended and inspire creativity. This particular kit was very fun for my building boys! Before even starting the official project, they spent about an hour doing this. They made sky scrapers, boxes, guns, and many more things.

Kiwi Crate Building

For the city project, they received the city buildings pictured, but also a various assortment of extras so they could really use their imaginations putting their cities together.

It’s So Much More than a Craft

Our kids do a lot of crafts. Children’s church, VBS, Sunday School, homeschool, etc. I have to be honest and say most of these things go in the trash soon. I’m sorry, but just keeping it real. There is no way we could possibly keep ALL of these crafts.

Kiwi Crate projects are more than just another craft.

Kiwi Crate projects create something useful for them. They are making their own toys that they can then play with for hours. They are making tools to use for exploring the world around them. In the case of this particular crate, our boys will get to make some cars to drive around their cities.

Kiwi Crate Finished

Kiwi Crate finished 2

Get a Discount on Your Kiwi Crate Subscription

So, there you have it…my 5 favorite things about Kiwi Crate.

Honestly, the market for kids and toys is highly saturated, but even so Kiwi Crate stands alone as being the only real subscription service of its kind. They are truly unique.

You can start your subscription now, and get 25% off your first crate using code BTS25, and new subscribers will also receive a bonus welcome kit. And, don’t forget that the subscription price includes free shipping.

Connect with Kiwi Crate on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, and G+



Save Money On Your Family’s Phones with Spring Sharing

This post brought to you by Sprint. All opinions are 100% mine.

 photo 9cf1e0dd-d550-4d0a-b2b3-437a4742ccde_zps3d7d155a.png

I shared a few months ago that one of the ways we save on mobile phone plans is that my phone is on my mom’s cell phone plan. This is a great way to save money for everyone with responsible family members. 

Our children are only 5 and 7, so they won’t be having their own cell phones any time soon. However, when they do get of age to have their own cell phones, I am so glad that we will have affordable options like the Sprint Family Share Plan. They are committed to being best deal in data, and it is clear that they are doing that right now.

They have the best prices available right now, AND offer the highest amount of data at that price. 20GB is a very good amount for a shared plan.

Some of the things I love about Sprint’s new family sharing plan:

  • For a family up to 10 lines, get 20GB of Shared Data and Unlimited Talk & Text for only $100 a month! $15 access fee per phone is waived through 2015.
  • For a family of four, that’s a savings of $60 per month over AT&T’s and Verizon’s current pricing (through 2015); It also offers at least double the data compared with their competiters.
  • It doesn’t matter if your family is 3, 5, or 10 people, you will get at least 20 GB of shared data and your monthly charge will be $100 (through 2015)
  • For customers who bring their number and activate on the Sprint Family Share Pack, Sprint will buy out their families’ contracts with a Visa Prepaid Card worth up to $350.

Offers the best value for customers who are using a lot of data and would like to share their plan.

You can get the full details here.

How can your family benefit from the Sprint family sharing plan?


Visit Sponsor's Site


The best Chocolate Chip Cookies, ever!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have to admit, I’m always a bit cynical when I see a recipe that claims to be the “best” of something. Because, well, usually it isn’t. So, I’m going to qualify my recipe with a little story.

Earlier this year, we decided to eat real food only in our household. We have since fallen off that wagon and are struggling to get back on, but that’s another post for another day.

Anyway, back before we got off track, we were about 2.5 weeks into it and I wanted a real sweet treat. And by “real” what I actually mean is fake, processed stuff that my mouth is still conditioned to prefer.

So, I came up with a bit of a compromise and created these. And WOW did they ever hit the spot! I ate one of these fresh out of the oven and it was about the best thing I ever put in my mouth.

Anyway. Best chocolate cookies ever. But, may have been colored by my desperation. However, I have since made these again, and they were still quite amazing. So, there is that.

First of all, a couple notes. I am a purist when it comes to my chocolate chip cookies, so that means no nuts! However, feel free to add them if you want. Just don’t blame me if they aren’t the best chocolate chip cookies ever, kay?

Secondly, did you know that you can make chocolate chip recipes healthier and more frugal by using less chocolate chips than called for in the recipe? It’s true, and this girl loves her chocolate. I challenge you to try it sometime. But not with this recipe, because I have already cut the chocolate chips.

I used whole wheat flour. If you usually use white and you’d like to start weaning yourself into healthier whole wheat, desserts are a good place to start–again, that is coming from a white-flour loving, picky eater. For me, the texture difference is less noticeable in desserts than in breads if you’re just starting with wheat. So, give it a shot. If you’re worried about it, you can try half white and half wheat, or just use all white and that should work fine as well.

Anyway, enough talk and here is the recipe.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

What you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips

What to do:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until creamy.  Add eggs and beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture mixing well after each addition. Finally, stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

I got 4.5 dozen cookies from this recipe.

Freezer Friendly

This recipe is very freezer friendly. I can fix a bake a small amount and not worry about grazing around on cookies that just happen to be ready in my kitchen. However, it also makes it easy to have a quick treat on hand. I can make just enough for our family, and all I have to do is pop them out of the freezer and into the oven (350 degrees for about 9-11 minutes). Very convenient.

I like to chill my dough and then ball out the dough with one of these little scoopers. Some people freeze them in balls, but I like to flatten mine out a bit because I feel that it helps them bake better.

Freezer Chocolate Chip Cookies



The Reading Game {Review & Giveaway}

This post is sponsored by The Reading Game. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The Reading Game review and giveaway. A great game to teach and reinforce reading skills. We don’t necessarily have a “traditional” school set up. We tend to be very laid back. I school year round, and we enjoy as many fun learning activities as possible. I plan our year based on the things my children should learn and we look for fun and creative ways to learn them.

Which is why I was so very excited to learn about The Reading Game. I was sold at the words “reading” and “game.”

What is the Reading Game?

The Reading Game Collage

The game is based on a simple game of memory. However, this game incorporates many more elements to make it effective training in reading.

The reading game includes 6 different levels, which are color coded for easy sorting. Each level contains:

  • 3 picture flash cards
  • 60 word cards (30 different words)
  • 1 book

Each level is further broken down in that the cards are numbered 1-6, with 10 cards of each number. Students work on like numbered cards to form pairs– 10 cards (5 words) at a time, repeating those pairs until they have mastered them.

After mastering the first 2 sets, children can further practice by reading the corresponding picture flash card, with sentences using the 10 words the child has learned. Once they have mastered all the word pairs in the level, they are ready to read the book with that respective level, which is comprised of the 30 words they have learned through that deck of cards.

They learn 30 words per deck, so at the end of 6 levels, they have learned 180 words. Of the 25 most commonly used English words, 23 are on that list; of the most commonly used 50 words, 42.

What we thought about The Reading Game

I LOVE this game, and so do my boys! We still practice phonics, but sight words are important as well, and for some children can be easier for them to learn. Regardless of your preferred method to teach reading, this is a great way to reinforce those skills. It has even been very effective for my struggling reader.

The Reading Game Play

Playing the Reading Game with the 1 and 2 cards together

My boys loved the matching game. They were excited at successfully reading the words, and getting matches.  The instructions indicated that the child should read the words when they get a match, but we read every word that we turn over to decide if it’s a match.

Just to share some of our brand of fun, my boys tend to enjoy the non-matches just as much as the matches, since they can give a very exaggerated, “nooooooo, that’s not a match!” They are so fun.

The picture flash cards act as a built-in reward system. My boys couldn’t wait to master the words so they could read those cards! And, of course, were even more excited to read the book for each level.

Overall, this game is a WIN for us. My boys are learning, and it’s fun. I love it when we can do school without them realizing it!

And, it makes my son smile like this…which is always a good thing.

The Reading Game Review & Giveaway

Win your own copy of The Reading Game!

This is my favorite part–I get to bless one of YOU with this game! I am so excited about that, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have :)

Entry is very simple. Just leave a comment letting me know why you’d like to win.

Bonus Entry–share about the giveaway on facebook, as posted here. (leave an extra comment letting me know you shared)

Rules: This giveaway is open to US residents only and is not associated with or endorsed by Facebook. Prize delivery is the responsibility of The Reading Game. Giveaway ends at 11:59, 9/1/14. Winner will have 48 hrs to respond once contacted.

 Do you play games in your homeschool?


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