New Sponsor: Homejoy- House Cleaning Atlanta



I have a new sponsor today:  Homejoy Atlanta which does house-cleaning in the Atlanta area.  If you live around there, be sure to check them out!

Thanks to Homejoy for supporting I Choose Joy!

How to Become #CartonSmart!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

 photo 1898ca76-3272-4baf-a8df-07abf60e15e3_zps1bf425e9.jpg

I was excited recently to be introduced to Tetra Pak cartons.  I received 3 different food items that were not packed in cans, but in Tetra Pak cartons.  

These foods are great for making your holiday meals, whether it's soup using organic chicken stock

 photo 795e421d-1ec8-414e-b1b8-dde8f5f23ded_zps62983f0a.jpg


pumpkin pie,

 photo d1d52bb8-c150-4f19-9a7c-b8c9ab3c8df3_zpsac6b75dd.jpg

green bean casserole,

or simply having a lovely cranberry loaf on your table.

 photo 62adf36b-e1dc-4d93-98c1-aa80d97a468d_zps600d562e.jpg

The package of Cranberry also had a great recipe on it for making Cranberry Pecan Crunch Squares.  Yum!  I'm going to make it next week.

I used the package of Organic Pumpkin Puree to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins for my boys to take to their early morning band party.  They turned out really yummy!  There is also a recipe for pumpkin pie on that package.

Here's my recipe:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

(makes about 24 large muffins)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 t. baking soda

2 T. pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 t. salt

1/2 cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

16 oz. package Pacific Organic Pumpkin Puree

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients (first 4 listed) in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Alternately add some of the flour mixture and the pumpkin puree, mixing well after each addition. After thoroughly mixed, stir in the chocolate chips.  Fill muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  

Why Tetra Pak cartons are pantry stables for those that enjoy living smart: 

• Tetra Pak® cartons are made of 70% paper, a renewable resource, from selectively harvested, re-grown trees that are FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) 

• Cartons use 1/3 of the packaging compared to cans…or even an egg! 

• Cartons are space saving, easy to store and open. Keep your pantry neat and toss your can openers, stackable and space saving. 

• The unique packaging process preserves the flavor and nutrients of food without the use of preservatives.Product quality is exactly the way it was intended to be. 

• Recycleable and in fact result in 60% less landfill waste than cans 

• Cartons are re-closable so you can use what you need and save the rest for later.

See how the packages open? 

Be #cartonsmart and follow along with Carton Smart's social pages:

Become Carton Smart

Tweet @CartonSmart

Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest to see some "Smart" ideas!


Leave a comment below of how you are trying to live #CartonSmart this holiday season, with great tasting food, but less waste!

Visit Sponsor's Site

May Flowers Giveaway Announcement Post

May Flowers Giveaway Event Announcement Post
Famous Free Samples’ May Flowers Giveaway Event

Sign-ups are now open for this great new giveaway event!

  • Event is free to join with an announcement post. If you don’t wish to post the announcement, please send the $5 non-post fee to
  • You’ll receive 1 free link for participating (either Twitter or Pinterest)
  • Additional links (RSS/Email, Twitter and Pinterest) are available for $5 each
  • Sign-ups for this event end on April 29th
  • Event runs from May 1 – 15
  • Prize: $100 Home Depot gift card

Please send all payments to as a “gift” via PayPal.
Sign up for this event here.

Curves– Get a Free Consultation



Do you have a Curves nearby?  Get a free consultation!

More details:

Welcome! You’re just three quick steps away from burning more fat than diet alone!

This year, be the star in your own Success Story. Every day, women who thought they couldn’t get fit find out that they can at Curves. Burn up to 500 calories with our 30-minute workout, which combines strength training and cardio for a workout that works your entire body–from head to toe. It works every major muscle group and gives you results that last. Now’s the time to take the first step toward YOUR success.

* The consult is absolutely FREE!
* Your personal information is PROTECTED.
* Curves Complete is the ONLY whole solution to weight loss.

Some restrictions may apply. Valid only at participating locations in the US and Canada.

(Post contains affiliate links.)


Funny Friday–Beware of the Doghouse!

Did any of you receive a Christmas gift like this?

(Click through to my website if you don’t see the video.”


Six Months Old!

Today our sweet baby E turned 6 months old!  She has been such a fun baby.  All her brothers and sisters love her so much.  She is never lacking in attention!  Here are a few pictures to see how she’s grown.

By the way, I’ve never mentioned that she was born with a hemangioma birthmark on her right arm and hand.  You can see somewhat in the pictures how it has changed in the last 6 months.  It has already started to fade and should be completely gone by the time she is 10 years old, if not sooner.  It doesn’t hurt her at all.

Also, she started out with brown hair.  It all fell out, and is now growing in blonde!

















Circle of Moms Top 25 Big Family Blog

Thanks for your votes, everyone!  We made it!

God’s Beautiful Sky

These photos were taken by my second son.





Circle of Moms Top 25 Big Family Blogs

Thanks to whoever nominated me again this year for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Big Family Blogs contest!

I’d love your vote–scroll down to find I Choose Joy!  Thanks!

You can actually vote once every day for the next 2 weeks if you really want to help me stay in the top 25!

Food on the Table–Free Life Membership!

If you missed this last time, you have another chance–but hurry, before it’s gone again.

Food on the Table matches recipes/ grocery lists with the grocery store sales of the week!  It’s a wonderful way to get organized for evening mealtimes–and we know how important those sit-down times are for our kids’ development.  They even have ways of narrowing down recipes for gluten-free, vegetarian, low-carb, low-fat, low-sodium, or specific ingredients.  It’s very handy!

So, you can sign up to get a free membership (3 meals a week) for life using the link above and the promo code:   SPRINGFREE


(contains affiliate links)

Need help Potty Training?

Save 25% off our Potty Training Kit with code POTTY25 at checkout

Ah, potty training.  Not my favorite part of being a mom!  But here’s something that might help.  Sometimes kids just need something fun to motivate them.  I have 2 more kids to potty train, and this might be something I’ll get!

The Baby Signs Potty Training Kit has everything you and your baby need to make potty training fun and easy! This exciting program combines the power of the Baby Signs Program with developmentally appropriate practices that help babies begin potty training as early as 12 months. Highly motivational products with the “Potty Train” theme make this program ideal for children of all ages.

The kit contains:

  • Parent Guide - This straightforward guide from trusted child development experts will help you confidently lead your baby to potty success.
  • All Aboard the Potty Train DVD - With its catchy tunes, delightful animation and real kids, this exciting DVD will teach your baby five potty-time signs and reinforce each step of the potty routine.
  • All Aboard the Potty Train Lift-the-Flap Book - Your baby will love discovering the potty-time signs hidden under each flap in this fun and interactive board book featuring the DiaperDoodles”.
  • Job Well Done! Stickers - These colorful reward stickers feature fun images and positive messages such as “Good Job” and “I’m on the Potty Train!”
  • All Aboard the Potty Train Conductor’s Whistle - Whether to signal it’s time to go potty or to “sound the trumpet of success,” this fun-to-blow whistle will put a smile on your baby’s face when it’s potty time.

Use coupon code POTTY25 at checkout.  Sale ends Monday 4/23/12.


(contains affiliate links)

Family Fun Magazine- 20 issues Free!

I’ve always enjoyed FamilyFun Magazine, as have my kids!  They’ll be so excited to get it again.  Here is a picture of a sand castle cake that we made from a recipe in FamilyFun:

You can get a complimentary 20 issue subscription to FamilyFun Magazine!  No strings attached.  You’ll never receive a bill!

FamilyFun is the magazine for parents with children ages three to twelve.  It’s an ideabook for all the exciting things families can do together.  FamilyFun is the essential information source, offering creative activities, party plans, family travel, learning projects and all clever ideas that busy mothers and fathers need to have at their fingertips!

Sign up for your 20 free issues here.  Offer expires Wednesday, April 18–do it now!  (Update:  I was just informed that the offer has reached its cap.  Try to get it, but I’m sorry if it’s too late!)


(contains affiliate links)

Tax Day: “The Government Can”

In “honor” of Tax Day, I thought you might enjoy Tim Hawkin’s “The Government Can.”

Today is also Tax Freedom Day, which means (according to this website) that you have finally worked enough days this year to pay next year’s tax bill!

Free Valentine’s Day Mousepad

Here’s a cute Valentine’s Day gift idea–a mousepad.  It’s free (s/h starts at $4.41).

See the deal at Vistaprint.

(Contains affiliate links.  Thanks for supporting I Choose Joy!)

DIY Blog Critique Workbook on sale now


If you are looking to improve (or start a blog), here is a great e-book workbook to help you do just that!  Anyone can use the code JANPROMO from NOW until January 20 at 11:59:59 pm ET to get the sale price of $10.50.  After that the price goes back up to $14 (but that’s still not a bad price for all that’s included.)

The DIY Blog Critique is a point-by-point walk-through of best practices for an awesome blog. It comes with a checklist as well so bloggers can work through their progress.  There are tons of links included as well.  Do you have a New Year’s Resolution to push your blog forward in 2012?  This will help you do it!





(Contains affiliate links.  Thanks for supporting I Choose Joy!)

Great Deals from InkGarden

Need a new desk calendar for 2012 or some FREE business cards?  See below for 2 great deals!

Desk Calendar for a $1 plus shipping/handling: USE CODE: DESKSP
Shipping Rates:$4.99 for 1st calendar, $1.99 for each additional calendar

Choose from 100 Free Business Cards plus shipping/handling:
USE CODE: 100FREE for front
and for back USE CODE: 100FREE2 
for 100 Free double sided business cards
Shipping Rates: $4.99

Father-Son Camp

For the past few years, my husband and older sons have had an awesome time going to the annual Father-Son Camp.  I think it’s the highlight of my sons’ year!  Check out these pictures (from 2010 and 2011), and you’ll probably see why!





























The Proposal-part 2

(The following is a continuation of The Proposal- part 1. )

The Proposal

by Michael C. Mayo

As I stalled the asking, my only solace was nightly staring at the brilliance of the ring.  I loved that ring but alas, it was like a beautiful instrument never played.  After attending a July afternoon wedding with my sweetheart, I was finally inspired to make my move.  So off to Granbury we went (it was the closest and cutest little town I could think of).  We drove in the square of the town and went out to dinner.  She was beautiful and with a fine figure in her cute little shorts (it was July in Texas).  Me?  I was attempting to carry on conversation, while trying to imagine proposing in the busy little restaurant.  No, that wouldn’t do.  Afterward, we walked on the square, but nowhere was “the place.”  The pragmatic side of me chastised:  What’s the big deal, just ask her and now, in front of this monument!  No, that just wasn’t me and she deserved something special – full stop.  All right then, it was getting dark and it was over.  The venture failed and so I drove her back to her apartment and said goodnight.

As I blasted myself all the way home and even shouted the word, “chicken” a few times, I vowed that I would not fail the very next day.  And, I didn’t.  We were attending church together in Fort Worth, so I knew I had the opportunity to ask her to lunch.  She consented and I, now with a better but still vague plan, had grabbed Chinese take-out and instinctively headed again south on State Road 377 toward Granbury.  But where shall I go?  I couldn’t go back to the town, that didn’t seem to work.  I finally scoped a gravel road off the highway leading up a hilly field of prairie grass and headed for it.  “Is this private property?” I think I heard her question.

“Don’t worry about it,” I assured her, “this is fine.  This will be a great place, um, to take some pictures of you.”  Up on the hill, away from the highway we spread out a blanket and got the food ready.  I had her pose here and there in the prairie and took those promised pictures.   Now, the ring, where was the ring?   Oh, yeah, still hidden in the car, I thought silently.  “Um, I would like to read something from the Bible,” I said to her in truth but hopefully also as a screen.  “Please open up to Proverbs 31, I, ah, left something in the car.”

Now back at the blanket, ring in pocket, Bible opened to Proverbs 31, the moment had arrived.  The Lord it seems had ordained this initial rite of passage, where the two shall formally engage and then soon thereafter, become one.  As I began to read the Proverb, my hands began to tremble and my voice, though usually loud and strong, began to falter.  Tears began to fill my eyes, as they do now at the memory, some thirteen years later.  I looked up at her face and saw the sweetest, compassionate smile unaffected by the tears running down her own cheeks.  I knelt on my knees as I, amid uncontrollable emotion, managed the words:  “Will you, Gena Kaye Boswell, before the witness of our Lord, marry me?”  Her response was immediate and with a determined yet gentle air, “yes, my darling Michael Christopher Mayo, I will marry you.”

We embraced and I slipped the ring on her finger.  It seemed to shine even more brightly in the hot Texas sun or, perhaps it was now resonating with its true keeper.  Mission accomplished!  A weight was off my heart – and hers, for she endured a year of uncertainty after her very early proclamation of commitment –as we dug into that food.  The hundred degree heat had one silver lining: the food was still hot.  This idyllic setting soon, though, was interrupted by the sound of a pick-up winding its way to us.  An older woman pulled up, rolled down her window and said, “Do you know this is private property?”

“Um, yes, ma’am.  I’m sorry, we’ll pack-up and leave,” I confessed.  She took an extra look at the blanket, the food, the Bible and, more importantly, the beaming bride-to-be.  She kind of motioned to the scene and smiled as she said, “well, ah, take your time, you can stay awhile.  But not too long now, my husband will be back in the evening.”  A third heart, it seems, was touched by the Lord on that hot, sunny day on the Texas prairie.

Homeschooling Moms With Apps–Math

When I started this series on homeschooling moms with apps 3 weeks ago I had no idea an incredible new website would burst on the scene last week.  It’s called Apps for Homeschooling.  Jennifer shares reviews, codes for free apps, and insider information about sales.  It’s great!  I’ll keep writing these posts to share what we like to use, but for more comprehensive information on great apps for homeschooling, be sure to visit Apps for Homeschooling!

This week we’ll talk about math.  The iPad is a wonderful tool for practicing math facts, and there are some really neat math apps out there.  Here are the ones my kids enjoy:

Math Bingo

Rocket Math

Dot to Dot Numbers and Letters

Pizza Fractions

Factor Samurai

Pizza Sudoku

Snowman Math

And these are some math apps I’ve heard good things about but haven’t looked into personally yet:

Math Ninja

Match up Math

Pop Math lite

Math A+

iLive Math

Math Girl Number Garden (and House)

Digit z lite

Fractions app

Kids Time Fun

Trade First Subtraction

Math Magic

Park Math


Do you have some favorite math apps I missed?

Please vote for me!

I’ve been nominated for Top 25 Big Family Blogs.  Will you please vote for me?  You can do it once a day until October 3!  Thank you so much!